Fruit Salad – but make it special and summery

Fruit Salad – but make it special and summery

We’ve all eaten fruit salad over the years. It can certainly have appeal, but also can be pretty boring. Let me introduce you to fruit salad like you may never have had before … with two simple additions to the fruit. Simple syrup and fresh mint.

A little extra boost of flavour

I used to always add orange juice to my fruit salads to give that extra hit of moisture and a cohesive flavour. That works fine in a traditional fruit salad that has apples and oranges in it. However, I have started to prefer a more seasonal fruit salad for the summer. So what goes with cherries, strawberries and other summer fruits? Well, I’ve been adding simple syrup. But, wait … simple syrup has no real taste. This is where the mint comes in! The addition of simple syrup and fresh mint takes the humble fruit salad to another level.

Since I’m based in Ontario, here’s a link to Foodland Ontario’s list of fruits by season. Here’s the guide for San Francisco. A little internet search will let you find the guide for your area.

pouring simple syrup into fruit salad

Fruit salad – not just for breakfast

I like to have fruit salad for breakfast any time. In fact, when my sons were small, it was a great way to get them to eat more fruit. Doing the ‘work’ for them, by chopping the fruit up, went a long way. Plus, it’s a good way to use up fruits that are lingering in the fridge beyond their initial appeal.

My seasonal fruit salad is also great for lunch, a snack in the afternoon (perhaps instead of a cookie!) or even for dessert. A good friend of mine (and an excellent cook herself) gave her family my style of fruit salad for dessert. They were a little surprised as that was not expected, but apparently just loved it.

I do like to serve it in nice little glass ice cream dishes when presenting it as dessert. The glass lets all the colours shine through.

“Curb Appeal”

Having learned to cook and bake primarily by watching cooking shows (mostly PBS in the late 80s and 90s) I learned that what a dish looks like really impacts how much the eater enjoys it. One of the ways you can bring extra curb appeal to the simple fruit salad is by choosing your fruits with intention.

Cherries, strawberries and blueberries! Wow, what a taste combo, also looks really good together. You have some watermelon? That dazzles in a fruit salad with some strawberries and another fruit choice. I try to keep it to three fruits for the most flavour and good looks. Kiwi is also great in a fruit salad and just one or two of them go a long way.

A more tropical version has mango as the starring fruit. One of the keys to a good-looking fruit salad it to cut all the fruit into like-sized pieces. Of course, you don’t have to take that too seriously. There’s nothing wrong with bigger chunks of cantaloupe sharing a bowl with raspberries.

Mint is a natural with fruit

I grow mint in my garden. I say grow, but it’s actually a weed and just shows up every year. It’s good to cut a bunch of it and put it in a vase on my kitchen windowsill. I wash it well when I bring it in (in case there are uninvited buggy guests) and put it in water. I do change the water every couple of days. You’ll find that the mint cuttings will actually start to create roots. That’s not a problem. You can just ignore that, cut them off … or replant the cuttings (or give them to someone else who has the same sort of ‘gardening style’).

Having the mint handy in the kitchen means it’s really easy to add to the fruit salad and to many other dishes. Having said that, if you really don’t like mint, then please just make the fruit salad without it.

To cut the mint, stack the leaves into a little bundle, roll them up and cut across the leaves. Then cut across the little strips so you don’t have very long pieces of mint in your fruit salad.

Simple syrup is simple!

I make the simple syrup with a 1:1 ratio of water and white sugar. Bring the water to a boil, add an equal amount of sugar and let it dissolve. You don’t want it to get too ‘cooked’ as it will turn a light brownish colour – that’s the sugar caramelising. That’s not a problem, but it won’t look as nice as the clear version.

simple syrup

We use simple syrup in the fruit salad of course. You can also use it in both adult beverages and alcohol-free ‘cocktails’ for kids. It also works really well in iced coffee as regular sugar does not dissolve as well in cold liquids. And, of course, I use it for my feathered friends in the hummingbird feeders.

It will stay okay for a while on the counter, but I put it in the fridge so it last longer and stays fresher. If I’m doing a very large quantity (for the hummingbirds) I store it in a large container in the fridge, but will add it to a nice smaller glass bottle for everyday use. These swing top bottles are really nice to use.

So go ahead, boost it up! The freshness of the mint and the specific choices of ingredients will never make you think fruit salad is boring! Drop me a note or leave a comment and let me know what you think of this version of an old favourite. Or … if you fancy something a little less virtuous, try my baked chocolate doughnuts instead 😃

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