TIPS ON MAKING A DELICIOUS FRESH FRUIT SALAD
1] Choose different colors of your fruits to make the finished product even more visually appealing to the eye. Don't add fresh bananas to the salad for mixing together. I avoid artificial additives when I go to the trouble and expense of getting fresh fruit.
2] For the best fruit salad, you need to put sugar on the fruit to pull the natural juices out. Sugar substitute can be used for diabetics or diets but just gently crush some of each of the fruit. I use about a cup or two of sugar for the whole amount - and this makes a huge amount! The juice of this salad is almost the best part of it - almost! Remember that fruit has the highest natural sugars in it to start with and think of it as sugar - especially cherries. If you have a reduced sugar diet, either avoid or have small portions!
3] I always cut the grapes and cherries in half so the sugar can draw out the juices as well as get in. The grapes I bought on sale were a bit sour but once this salad was ready, they were fantastic! This is the amount I put into my giant yellow mixing bowl - a 5 gallon container! (This is my cut up and serving bowl - smiling) I learned how jarring sour fruit can be in this when I didn't cut up the grapes in one of my first batches.
4] I mixed the grapes and cherries with the sugar and went about cutting up my watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches and whatever else. When I went back about an hour later, this is how well they had juiced. The amount of sugar is totally up to you but the recipes for canning syrup are: light = 1 cup sugar to 3 cups water, medium = 1 cup sugar to 2 cups water, & heavy = 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water. So your can of light syrup fruit has some sugar in it! When the fruit is processed for canning, some water evaporates, as well, while the water WATERS down the juice flavor and heating reduces the nutrition! This one or two cups of sugar is not a lot when you consider the volume of salad you end up with!
5] I usually use half the watermelon and half the cantaloupe or musk melon. That way, I can make another batch of this fantastic salad a few days later - since it's usually gone by then anyway! Before cutting open a melon of any kind or cantaloupe, remember it can stay stored - as is - without problem for a good two weeks and actually sweetens with age. So if you see it on sale this week and no other fruit is on sale, buy it and save it. Buy it on the last day of it's sale and the next day, different fruits will probably be on sale, and 8 days later, a different selection of fruit might be on sale. I purchased three weeks of fruit on sale in a 9 day period because I waited to see what would be on sale the third week. It happened to be green seedless grapes from $1.99 to $.99 a pound on day 9 - a major element in my fav fruit salad combo!
6] Choose the combination of fruits that suits you and your family. As a guide, here are the higher and lower sugar fruits in categories to make it a little easier. I have not included all fruits - just the types that can be used in a marinating type of salad like this. All the fruit should be nicely ripe, with no brown spots. An unripe piece of peach or pear - even slightly - ruins this salad texture! If you add a canned tropical fruit mix, be sure those mangoes or whatever are NOT ROCK HARD!
High sugar fruits:
* Cherries - very high sugar
* Kumquats - must be very ripe
* Mangoes - must be very ripe
* Pears - must be soft to the cut knife touch
* Pineapple - ripe and juicy
* Bananas - very high sugar
Lower sugar fruits:
* Berries - don't usually hold up well in this kind of salad
* Musk Melons
* Lemons - use only the juice
* Limes - use only the juice
* Papayas - must be very ripe
* Peaches - must be soft to the cut knife touch
* Kiwis - should go in last and have the least mixing in time
The addition of lemon juice will help fruits that brown stay fresh looking - like pears - but can over-power the flavor. The sugar also helps preserve the fruits.
7] In this batch, I used watermelon, cantaloupe, cherries, grapes, peaches and I broke down and used canned pineapple because fresh are so expensive and usually not near ripe enough. (Not that easy to cut up either!) I bought about two pounds each of cherries and grapes and used about a pound both in this batch. (I will be making another batch in a couple days!) This combo is so basic and compatible that it doesn't have to have more. Notice how much fruit juice developed with about 2 cups of sugar mixed into the whole batch? But look how much this makes - that's a 5 quart bucket!
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