Growing up, fruit salads were an ever-present dish at family gatherings. I don’t mean the fruit cocktail from a tin can with maraschino cherries. Homemade fruit salad, full of home-canned fruits, like peaches, apricots, and pears. Coming from agricultural roots gave my family a few quirks, and home-canning food in large quantities was one of them. My family loves to can food. Fruits, vegetables, juice, homemade jams and jellies, pickles, I’ve even seen large batches of homemade ketchup in the works. If it grows in their gardens, it goes in a can. “Can” is a misnomer, too, because everyone used glass Ball jars with screw-on lids.
Because I associate fruit salad with fun and connection, I like to take it to events. When I received an invitation to a party a few weeks ago, fruit salad immediately came to mind.
Without any home-canned goodies of my own, I added the vague “fruit” to my shopping list and headed off to the store. Lucky for me, Sprouts was having a sale on tropical fruits. Not everything I wanted was ripe (I’m looking at you, mangoes and kiwis), and pineapple-papaya fruit salad would be a little lacking. Then, I came upon an array of melons I’d never had – Galia, Santa Claus, Canary, Hami. As I read the new-to-me names, the bright colors captivated me. I loaded my cart with melons, guessing as to what was ripe and what wasn’t, and headed home to make fruit salad.
I consulted my trusty copy of The Flavor Bible and set to work. (If you don’t have The Flavor Bible, I highly recommend it! It’s one of my favorite places to find inspiration.) Lots of cutting later, I had a multi-layered fruit salad full of greens, yellows, and orange. I added a pint of blueberries for contrast, tossed it with a mint-orange dressing, and tucked it into the fridge to rest until the event that evening. The first bite reminded me of family and togetherness as I made new memories with new friends.