Though this sinfully scrumptious fruit salad has been a famous favorite in out family for more than 3 decades, I must give credit where it’s due. It’s origins lie in the heart of our crazy, wonderful, counter-culture co-op Day Care Center at IU where student-parents shared child-care, clothing, recipes, world views and…. more. It was the early 70’s. This Famous Family Fruit Salad came to us though Sheila, imaginative hippie mom who shared a house for awhile with a small group of us other student-parents and our assortment of young kids.
One gorgeous summer day a group of maybe 40 or 50 grown-ups & kids gathered for one of our pitch-in meals. Sheila brought a baby bathtub and a boatload of fruit & stuff. I can’t swear the baby tub was new, but I’m pretty certain it was clean. Sheila had been a nurse in her previous incarnation. Don’t be alarmed. You don’t need a bathtub! A couple of good sized bowls should be sufficient. This is faster & more fun as a group activity!
Minimum Fruity Stuff for smallish Famous Family Fruit Salad:
Seedless Green Grapes
Kiwi – if you like
Bag of Shredded Coconut
Chopped Walnuts (caution: Be aware if anyone is allergic, or be sure everyone knows it has nuts.)
Not recommended: Squishy berries like raspberries or flimsy watery fruit like watermelon. But, hey, this came from an era of experimentation, so be bold!
Secret Mush Mix Stuff:
Whipped cream/ Cool Whip
Get your jolly crew to begin chopping, slicing, peeling, etc.:
Rinse everything, of course, but leave skin on any fruit that doesn’t have to be peeled (i.e. bananas, oranges DO need to be peeled unless you’re maybe an ape).
Slice apples & peaches into wedges with skin on.
Tear oranges into individual slices.
Slice bananas the cereal way.
Cut cherries in half and pop out pits.
Green grapes can be whole or halved.
Strawberries are best in halves or fourths.
Pitted dates are good whole or halved lengthwise.
Warning: This will not pass muster as our Famous Family Fruit Salad if you use canned fruit! One exception: pineapple chunks. Pineapples are prickly and hard to cut, and I’ve found over the years that a surprising number of people who may be fine with canned, get bad tongue irritations from fresh pineapple. Be sure canned pineapple chunks are thoroughly drained.
For a typical amount of Famous Family Fruit Salad, start with 1 or 2 of the larger fruits (orange, apple, peach, etc.) Toss in a handful of this and that of the smaller fruits (berries, cherries, grapes, raisins, etc.). Add more if it looks like it’s not enough. Save coconut and nuts for mush mix.
Use approximate equivalent amounts of each. I mean, if you use a small yogurt (plain!), and sour cream about the same size, then use small Cool Whip and a regular block or small tub of whipped cream cheese. There’s a karmic balance of sweet/fluffy/sour/creamy needed. Or just experiment. If that’s not going to be a massive enough creamy delight for your bowl of fruit, use large yogurt, sour cream, Cool Whip and 2 blocks cream cheese. (Even I can do this much “math”.)
In separate bowl, use fork to mash some of the yogurt or sour cream into cream cheese to thin it out. Be aggressive – mash with gusto! Once it’s blended, mix in the one you didn’t use. Finally, fold in the whipped cream. It shouldn’t be too airy or fluffy. Or runny. In this case, you probably need to thicken with more cream cheese.
Add nuts and/or coconut to mush mix, according to your taste.
And now it’s time for fruit and mush to meet:
Fold both fruit and mush in together in whichever bowl works best for the Famous Family Fruit Salad. Taste. Sigh…
Warning: The mush mix loses its fluffy heavenly texture by the next day, so eat up!
Good luck with making it your Famous Family Fruit Salad!