Everything You Need to Know About Making Fruit Salad

This Filipino classic dessert is one you should be making any time of the year.

IMAGE Kai Huang | Styling by Erika Tangtatco

Pineapples, maraschino cherry halves, papaya, and peaches are just a few of the fruits that you will encounter when you empty a can of fruit cocktail into a bowl. It is during the Christmas season that these canned fruits appear on dinner and buffet tables alike in the form of a creamy fruit salad. You don't need to wait for the Christmas season to enjoy fruit salad!

The fruit salad is an easy dessert recipe that should and can be made at any time of the year! It uses up canned food so you can have the ingredients ready in your kitchen whenever you crave some holiday dessert to lift your spirits.    

For those making fruit salad, here are all the tips you need:

Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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1 Drain your fruit cocktail overnight. 

The first thing you need to remember when it comes to making fruit salad is that you need to drain the fruit cocktail. Draining the fruit cocktail is important because unless it's drained of as much liquid or syrup as possible, your fruit salad may and will be thin and watery. It won't be a salad; it will be a fruit soup. 

Avoid that blunder and the night before or even a few hours before you need to put the salad together, dump the contents of the fruit cocktail into a sieve or a colander over a bowl. Let it drain as completely as possible so that its flavors, not the syrup, will shine in the finished salad. 


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2 Use fresh fruit! 

Use in-season fresh fruits for this creamy fruit salad while those fruits as still available! You just have to source the freshest fruits at your local supermarket or palengke for what's in season. Why not try a fruit salad that uses chunks of navel oranges, blush pink suha or pomelo, purple seedless grapes, bright yellow mangoes, juicy red watermelon chunks, and even tangy green kiwi fruit. The colors alone will make this one of the most arresting desserts on any table. 

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3 Add more nata de coco and maraschino cherries.  

A fruit cocktail may not be a fruit salad without nata de coco. These juicy cubes of solidified coconut water are naturally gelatinized and are also known as coconut gel. These cubes give random bursts of sweetness that leech even more flavor into the salad. 

The texture is unique among the fruits and actually gives a firm, crunchy bite that would otherwise be missing from the dish. These come dyed in either red or green but also commonly plain translucent white, too, for those who want the redness of the maraschino cherries to be dominant. 

Speaking of maraschino cherries, a can of fruit cocktail is notoriously short on cherries. Don't believe the advertising and instead grab a bottle of the cherries if you love its unique candy-flavor. Grab a few or as many as you prefer to stir in.  


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4 Stir in the red or green kaong last. 

Before you toss your ingredients together for your salad, note the ones that are in a color syrup or in any liquid that could dye the cream dressing of your salad. This includes kaong, or the sweet palm tree nuts commonly dyed a bright red or green hue, in its dyed sugar syrup and the sweet but red-dyed simple syrup that the maraschino cherries are soaked in for your creamy fruit salad recipe. 

Just like the can of fruit cocktail, these should be drained as thoroughly as possible so that the dyed syrup will not stain your white creamy dressing before it's served. 

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5 Make the dressing. 

The most common kind of dressing for the fruit salad is made of all-purpose cream and sweetened condensed milk. Just two ingredients and it will elevate an ordinary bowl of fruits to divine heights. You can even flavor this a little bit more with some of the fruit cocktail syrup to give it a fantastic fruity sweet flavor on top of the creaminess. 

However, you do not have to stick to that. Are you concerned with all that dairy? Substitute yogurt for the cream and sweeten it with honey. You can skip the cream all together and use softened cream cheese for a delightful tang to complement your fruits. You can even omit the cream all together and just toss it in a different kind of syrup, one that's infused with another flavor of your choosing that will make it taste light and even more refreshing. What binds these fruits together is purely up to you. 

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6 Keep it chilled. 

The best thing you can do for a fruit salad is to keep it as cold as possible before serving it. The cold cream is best when at low temperatures and with the humidity, it will be a welcome respite from the clingy warmth. Put it on ice or, as some do, freeze it overnight, so that when it's to serve, it's icy shards are refreshing and sweet.    

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Do you add your favorite fruits to add to a fruit salad? However way you make your fruit salad, the enjoyment of this dessert is really the fresh bursts of fruity flavors that are the highlight of this classic dessert.   

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here!


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