Maybe your body is asking for one more cookie, please, or a piece of fudge. Or it might be saying, “Hey, pal, how about a nice fruit salad, like one with citrus in it, and maybe some prunes.”
And while I usually prefer local food, at this time of year I often crave oranges, grapefruits and clementines. Though I haven’t the wholesome habit of my friend Ben Yardley in Falmouth who spends some portion of his weekend cutting up a jar full of citrus to have at breakfast all week long, I will from time to time prepare a batch of fruit to keep on hand for breakfast or snacks.
To keep it interesting, my fruit salad has to have a mixture of dried and fresh fruits. It’s a good time to look in the pantry and freezer to see what needs using up. Things like dried cranberries or raisins; dates and prunes snipped small with kitchen scissors; a little candied ginger chopped finely for zip; apples from the cellar, unpeeled unless they have ugly spots; and peaches, since I can them. Blueberries in the freezer from summer picking? Why not. Then I add oranges cut fairly small; grapefruit, ditto, removed from its peel and even the membrane separating the sections. I add a little orange zest to spike the flavor a little.
You might have bananas, frozen strawberries or something like kiwis. I wouldn’t add them until I was ready to eat the salad because they’ll get a little slimy after a couple days of floating in the stored salad — nothing that poisons you, just icky to eat.
This mixture doesn’t need sugar. The dried fruits add a lot of sweetness, and orange is sweet. If you really need more sweetness there’s always honey, maple syrup or a spoonful of fruit jelly or jam, which dissolves into the fruits.
One thing works really well: put all the dried fruit at the bottom of the bowl you cut your salad into, where the juice from the fruits will sink and plump the dried fruits a bit. Let the salad sit for a couple hours before mixing it to get the full benefit of this.
Then, just keep this on hand in the fridge.
Depending on how adventurous you and your family are, you might like adding a few spoonfuls of this fruit mix to a green salad, with or without avocado or a bite-y, leafy item like arugula. A bit of balsamic vinegar added and olive oil is all the dressing you’d need. And salt and pepper, of course.
As my mother used to say, “That’ll cure what ails ya.”
Refrigerator Fruit Salad
Yields a quart or more
Handful of dried cranberries and/or raisins
5-6 prunes and/or dried apricots, cut up
2-3 dates, pitted and chopped
3-4 slices candied ginger, chopped
2-3 oranges, peeled
1 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned into bite sized pieces
1 apple cored and cut into bite sized pieces
Other fruit as desired such as peaches, fresh or canned, grapes, pineapple, etc.
Put the cranberries, raisins, prunes, dates, ginger and apricots into a medium sized bowl.
Over the bowl, cut the orange and grapefruit into bite sized pieces and let juice drip into it.
Add the apple, and any other fruit you desire.
Let the salad stand for a couple hours so the dried fruits plump slightly, then stir to mix.
Store in a glass jar or other container and eat whenever you wish, shaking the jar to redistribute the juice before serving. It will keep about 5 days to a week.