UNITED STATES—Nothing cools down the excessive heat way of the summer, like a cold fruit salad. No, Iâ€™m not taking about those ridiculous pre-packaged fruit salads at your local market; Iâ€™m referring to a fresh one. Yes, I know chopping and cutting up fruit takes time, but the price you pay for a packaged fruit salad you can almost triple the amount you receive by making it yourself.
Fruit is not easy to pick out. Key is smell and outer appearance. This is particularly important when selecting fruits that have a husk like those in the melon family which we will discuss later. Just because youâ€™re making a fruit salad doesnâ€™t mean you have to include all fruits in the rainbow, pick and choose your arsenal. Some fruits are not suitable participants as they get soggy or lost in the mix of things. Iâ€™m particularly referring to stone fruits, apples, oranges and pears.
Peaches, apricots, plums and mangoes in my opinion are reserved to compliment each other, not other fruits. Making a stone fruit salad is a nice diversion from the typical fruit salads we see time and time again during the summer months. However, for this column weâ€™re going to focus on the typical fruit salad with a few surprises.
You canâ€™t have a fruit salad without watermelon! Itâ€™s the go to fruit for the summer months, when it is at its peak in my opinion. It is no easy task to pick out a perfect watermelon, smell works to a degree, but color is more important. Watermelons that may be sitting outside your local farmers market or in direct sunlight are a no-no. You want a watermelon with a darker-outer layer. A darker green indicates a sign of a â€œredâ€ watermelon, in addition, to a potentially sweet one. Those watermelons with a very light green to yellowish complexion could be no good, so be careful.
Nowadays no one eats watermelon on the rind and seedless seems to be the craze. So chop the watermelon into reasonable sized cubes and store in a container. Iâ€™ll explain more on this in a bit. Next, we have cantaloupes and honeydews. Both delicious treats that bring a bit of color to your fruit salad! Iâ€™ll be honest substitute the cantaloupe for a honeyrock. Itâ€™s a member of the melon family, just like a cantaloupe with an orange flesh, but tends to have a more rugged outer layer, and is 10x sweeter in my opinion. The key to picking a great honeyrock or honeydew is to ensure the fruit is not damaged on the outside. Any evident coloring issues or a sour smell is a sign to stay away.
Like the watermelon, you want to eliminate the rind and dice each fruit into small cubes. Store each in a separate container. Now we have the good ole pineapple, the sweet and juicy treat that is available year-round it seems. A pineapple can be a tricky fruit to select. You want to choose one that is firm, yet has a dark green color to it, and the leaves are NOT overly brown. Thatâ€™s not a good sign if they are. Discard of the outer layer, cut around the core and chop into small cubes as well and store separately.
Now the next two items I introduce are surprises in most fruit salads. This is a choice you can make or not make. For an extra crunch utilizing red or green grapes are terrific in my opinion. I prefer red grapes; they are a bit sweeter in my opinion compared to the tart green grapes. These items should be the last addition to your fruit salad. The secret ingredient is a lemon. Yes, a lemon. Take a lemon and slice it in half and use the juice to sprinkle over your watermelon, honeyrock or cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple. The sourness from the lemon elevates the sweetness to the other fruits, especially the watermelon. Many of you might think watermelon and lemon are an odd combination (trust me I thought the same thing), but they pair so well together.
My preparation of the fruit salad is not to combine all the fruits into one bowl. Doing so, allows the fruit salad to become overly soggy and watery in my opinion. Let your guests create their own fruit salad by adding each of the fruits to their plate or bowl. This way the watermelon doesnâ€™t lose its texture, the honeyrock stays extra sweet, the pineapple doesnâ€™t diminish the sweetness of the honeydew and each piece of fruit provides the perfect burst of summer.