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Fruit Salad...that doesnt include "an arm and a leg"

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I need to make fruit salad for a Christmas Breakfast, alot of fruit salad..and I mean at least 25 lbs
any thoughts on combinations that make sense financially as well as overall taste. It is for a Christmas Brunch...help!

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  1. I would use half plain / half vanilla yogurt, bananas, grapes and apples as the bulk. they will contribute lower cost per weight I think. Fresh oranges would be a time sink but you need that citrus to balance the other stuff. You'll have to skimp on berries. Right before you serve it toss it with a box of granola for added texture? Frozen fruit mixtures are expensive per lb so I would avoid.

    I'm all ears, but fruit salad is something I eat because I should not because I'm excited about it. I'd rather have a smoothie.

    1. Does it have to be one huge fruit salad? It occurs to me that you could cater successfully for different tastes by having about 3 different fruit salads, which wouldn't actually increase the prep time as you would be preparing the same amount of fruit.

      For example, you could have a 'creamy' fruit salad (such as suggested by e_bone) with yoghurt as the 'dressing' base, a citrussy salad of largely orange/clementine with a bit of bulking fruit if necessary (something like http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/mo... or http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...), and something else depending on people's tastes.

      Obviously only you know how much extra work that will create and how much space you have for a few large bowls, but if it would have been decanted across several bowls anyway, it may be worth a thought

      1. I'm not sure what fruits are inexpensive in your area, or how much you're trying to spend per pound, but I just made a nice fruit salad of persimmons, grapefruit, and a big pomegranate for Thanksgiving. The thing I liked about it was that all the fruits could be cut up in advance--no worry of oxidation, like with apples and pears. I just added the zest of a lime and a little vanilla sugar before serving. The ripe persimmon, tart grapefruit, and crunchy pomegranate were a great combination of flavors and textures.

        1. 25 pounds? is this brunch for 100? i am being completely serious with this question.

          what fruit is reasonable and in-season for you, may not be the same as for me. i looked at grapes for my brunch tomorrow and they were $2.99 per pound. not cheap at all, so i passed, ya know?

          i like the idea of adding yogurt to stretch it, and am thinking perhaps a sort of trifle with pound cake, fruit and yogurt might present nicely. use different fruits for different bowls for contrast.

          1. Do you mean fresh cut-up fruit, or the ambrosia-type creamy stuff suggested by other posts?

            If you live in the northern hemisphere, there's no local fresh fruit. Breakfast implies citrus. I suggest supremed orange and grapefruit* sections and tangerine segments plus sliced banana, with orange juice and honey. Maybe some golden raisins in there too.

            If you mean a fruit compote, my own concoction is to stew or nuke the following: slices of fresh peeled/cored Bosc pear and firm apple variety (like Granny Smith), prunes, dried apricots, honey,
            apple cider, and a sauternes-type dessert wine (I like Tokaji Aszu). The wine is optional, I suppose. Once cooked, add golden raisins (which will swell too much if cooked). Serve cold.

            Dried fruit only SEEMS expensive. It's way cheaper than fresh when compared on a dry-weight basis. Costco has great prunes and Trader Joe's has better dried fruit prices than ordinary supermarkets.
            * There are a number of medications which interact dangerously with grapefruit so don't use it if you don't know for certain that none of your guests take any of them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious

              Ambrosia is not traditionally "creamy stuff". It is, in it's oldest and purest form (and it is a very old recipe), it is simply orange and freshly grated coconut, with a little bit of sugar and perhaps a splash of booze. The recipe has been corrupted beyond recognition, but let's give the excellent original its due. And it's perfectly seasonal for Christmas.

            2. Dried cranberries, pomegranate arils, and cut up dates can add some sparkle to the mix you come up with.

              1. Only buy what's in season. Generally fruits in season are cheaper, and as a bonus, they always taste better than fruits not in season. Around xmas, I'd be thinking:
                Apples
                Pears
                both may have discoloration issues if done too far in advance:

                Banana

                citrus should be well on it's way - ruby red grapefruit might steal the show if oranges aren't at their peak.

                Grapes would definitely depend on if they are good or not for the price. Chile is producing some decent grapes in our winter, and they are priced decently as well.

                Don't buy fruit just because it's there and you think it would be good. You'll may wind up with horrible tasting fruit. What's the point of fruit salad for a bunch of people if it tastes bad, and nobody wants to eat it - that's my opinion, anyway.

                I'm in Chicago, and I would NOT be looking to buy things like stone fruits, melons, berries or Kiwis in Dec. That's kind of just asking to make a horrible fruit salad at a premium price.

                3 Replies
                1. re: gordeaux

                  I would NOT include pears or bananas in the fruit salad. They will both soften to a jelly like texture. Ewww. Apples, grapefruit, grapes, canned pinapple and canned mandarine oranges are great. Add some dried fruit and nuts if you can.I make fruit salad EVERY week,

                  1. re: shaebones

                    Bosc pears stay firm even when cooked - no problem at all in fresh applications as long as there's some citrus to prevent discoloration. Use bananas without spots on their skins as they are firmer than perfectly ripe ones.

                    I guess not too many people read previous posts before adding their two cents. As I posted above, guests on a number of medications could have their health - even lives - jeopardized by consuming grapefruit. Most people who take these meds know the risk but some may not notice the inclusion in a mixed salad.
                    And I notice that this list is incomplete, as the heart rhythm medication I take comes with a grapefruit caution, but does not appear here: http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/upd...

                    1. re: greygarious

                      Thanks for that link, greygarious.

                2. An incredibly easy and delicious dressing can be made simply from honey, fresh lime juice and poppyseeds. Drizzle over fresh fruit and toss. I make it when we have guests for breakfast and always get asked for the "recipe".

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chefathome

                    I love making a vinaigrette of lime juice and coconut oil for fruit salad. But it's more of a summer tropical salad flavor profile.

                    1. re: rasputina

                      That sounds lovely!

                  2. Winter is not my preferred fruit salad season and I certainly would not use bananas as they brown and get mushy too easily. I'd be tempted to just offer a selection of fresh fruit in season. Although citrus and avocado is a very nice winter salad I can't imagine trying to do 25 pounds of it.

                    1. If you have access to a Mexican market buy a couple of gigantic papayas a week in advance. Put them in a brown paper grocery bag to ripen until they look as if they're starting to rot then put them in the sink, scrub them well, peel them, discard the seeds (or divert seeds to another use) and cut the fruit into bite-size chunks. This will supply you with a lot of bulk fruit. Next, invest in a large honeydew melon---out of season but look to see what's a decent price. Again, you will get a lot of bulk fruit. Cut up a bunch of apples with the peel still on. Use some watermelon if you can find it for a price you want to pay. Cut maybe four grapefruit in half, segment them as if you were going to eat them, and dig out the pieces. Also add a lot of grapes, cut in half. See if you can get a couple of fresh pineapples, otherwise the canned is on sale over the holidays---go for the chunks Maybe some kiwis. Maybe one box of strawberries (cut them in half) for color accent. This can be done, but I would budget $20- $25 for it. I assume you are serving about fifty people? Watch to see if any fruit is on sale at a chain supermarket, otherwise the mama and papa ethnic fruit stores may be your best bet. You aren't going to make 25 pounds of fresh fruit salad free and gratis in the dead of winter, but consider how you spend your money---you want to fill a lot of bowls., so go for bulk. And BTW I disagree with the suggestion that you add yogurt and granola to your fruit salad---that's something but it's not fruit salad---certainly I would turn my nose up at it on any buffet. Also, if you add a couple of teaspoons of Fruit Fresh the fruit won't turn brown, and add any bananas at the last second as they turn easily.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Querencia

                        fruit and yogurt parfaits are pretty regular fare for brunch, and a nice protein alternative to meat for those who may not want it.

                        as for watermelons, strawberries and honeydews ... for me in boston... in the last throes of autumn? it would be an utter waste of money for big cubes of flavorless fruit from many 1000s of miles away. even grapes are too spendy right now. perhaps you live someplace where this is not the case?

                      2. My fruit salad recipe is definitely a summer one, but I'm sure you could figure out a way to make it a winter one.

                        I take a big Hami Melon (Flavorwise similar to a cantaloupe, but a stronger flavor usually) and chop it up small, my favorite season apples and juilienne them 1/8" on my mandolin, and mix together. For the sauce, I take a bunch of raspberries and half as many blackberries and pour some sugar on them until they turn into a sauce. I chiffonade some basil and mint and mix that in with the sauce, and pour it over the melon and apple. The combination is absolutely lovely.

                        I julienne the apples because I don't really care for large, hard, crunchy chunks of apple in what is mostly a softer, smooth salad, because they just don't mix well. Thinly Juilenning makes the apples much easier to deal with.

                        For a winter version, you could throw in some nice citrus, double up on the apple instead of the melon, and maybe add some asian pears as well?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: TheFormerVeg

                          And a snort of brandy.

                        2. I make a fruit platter for my church buffet every other Sunday. A fresh pineapple goes a long way, as well kiwis if on special are nice to add to the salad. A canteloupe which is not overripe also goes a long way or any other melon. Some strawberries and clementines all in a nice platter will impress. All presented nicely cutup platter style and you have a deconstructed fruit salad.

                          1. What about going with pure citrus, as citrus tends to be a winter fruit? Orange, tangerine, grapefruit, pink grapefruit, a bit of lemon and lime?

                            I don't know where you're located, but I'm assuming it's not an area that actually has seasonal winter fruit (by comparison, I'm currently enjoying in season guava, passion fruit and oranges, among others). I personally find bananas in fruit salad gross, as they go brown and mushy pretty quickly. Apples keep well and tend to be cheap, but also brown quickly. Peaches/pears/nectarines/plums/berries/cherries are going to imported, possibly not very nice, and cost an arm and a leg.

                            If you can do a fruit compote or something cooked - I'd suggest apple/pear/cranberry, but a lot less than 25 pounds worth.

                            1. If you're trying to be budget conscious, then how about using frozen fruits? Berries of all types, including strawberries, are fine defrosted.

                              And I wouldn't poo-poo the idea of canned pineapples.

                              These along with whatever is fresh, seasonal and on-sale, should get you where you want to go.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                I think defrosted strawberries are nasty mush. Other berries' juice might stain anything else in the salad. Frozen berries are fine for smoothies, baking or *maybe* a moulded jello type salad or yogurt parfait. I wouldn't personally want to do the latter for a big crowd, seem like attractive presentation would be an issue, but maybe individual cups done could be done in advance? Or self-serve: mixed defrosted berries, yogurt and granola.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Dole has an excellent canned pineapple labelled tropical gold pineapple chunks. I use this one if fresh is too expensive or for convenience.

                                2. I would slice or chop a lot of apples and pears and combine them with frozen cranberries and some honey (or a melted can of sweetened cranberry sauce). Maybe add a sprinkle of cinnamon and top with walnuts and raisins. It will be Christmas-y, easy and fairly cheap if you get stuff from CostCo.