with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

The Best Fresh Fruit Recipe Ever

I’ve been feeding my father, who has been here in Alabama with us now for 3 months, some fabulous favorite recipes and I thought I’d share some with you that he thinks are the best. All of these recipes come from two sources, my favorite cookbooks. They are produced by the Australian Women’s Weekly Books and Family Circle. I adore both series, though the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks are awesome.

It’s a pain in the butt to get my father to eat any fruit, so I was thrilled when this became a simple easy method to pour the fruit down his throat. He begs for it, so I keep a small bowl constantly filled in his fridge. While it’s enough for two to three servings, it rarely lasts overnight.

This fabulous fruit recipe comes from the Australian Women’s Weekly’s Simple Beginner’s Meals cookbook and it is called Fruit Salad With Star-Anise Syrup. This is super simple to do and great for children and groups. If you got a lot to feed, this is a fast and easy desert or snack. It’s also great for taking with you in your RV. Little fuss and muss.

Ingredients

1-2 kilograms (enough for four servings) of just about any fruit: strawberry, melon, pineapple, mango, cherry, apple, orange, grape, kiwi, whatever*
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
4 cardamon pods
4 star anise

Note that you may use canned fruit in a pinch, after draining all of the canned juices and syrups away, and rinsing those stored with heavy sugary syrups, but fresh fruit will get the best results.

In a pot on medium heat, put the sugar, lemon juice, and water and begin to heat it (not to a boil).

Bruise the cardamon by setting each pod on a cutting board, laying a big knife over it on its side and gently smacking your hand down on the knife to flatten the pod to open just a little, or doing the same thing with a flat heavy surface like a meat pounder.

Put the cardamon with the star anise in the pot, but I want to give you an option.

If you are just doing this single recipe, you can pull the cardamon and anise out later so people won’t eat it. If you are doubling or tripling the recipe, then put the cardamon and star anise in a cheese cloth made into a tea bag. This way, you can reuse it one more time and easily keep all the little bits and pieces from being eaten.

Heat the syrup until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. When the liquid is clear, though slightly reddish in color from the star anise, turn off the heat and let it cool.

Cut up the fruit into small bite-sized pieces and put into a sealed container that will easily fit into your refrigerator.

When the syrup has cooled, pour it over the fruit, either leaving the cardamon and anise in or straining it into a cheese cloth and putting the collected seeds into the mixture, and store it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is great, too.

Serve it up in bowls and invite your guests to drink the syrup out of the bowl after they finish the fruit. They will want to, trust me. Slurping is required.

I always keep some syrup in the bowl and add more fruit as necessary, mixing it with the older fruit. keeping this on hand for several days before making a new mixture. It will store in the fruit for about 2 days with fruit in it. After that, the fruit starts to get soggy but is still okay for another day or so, depending upon the fruit. You can make the mixture up to three days ahead before putting on the fruit, though the cookbook recommends reheating the syrup before pouring on the fruit.

The Australian Women’s Weekly’s Simple Beginner’s Meals suggests adding a small dollop of mascarpone as a topping, but whip cream will also work. We like it plain. DO NOT put it over ice cream as it will melt the ice cream really fast, unless the ice cream is rock solid frozen.

I’ll be adding more of my favorite recipes soon, so stay tuned for more goodies as Lorelle learns more about how to cook.

***Note: After many years using this recipe, we’ve learned a few tricks. If you are going to serve it within a couple hours, and not store left-overs, you may include bananas, apples, and similar fruit, fruit that easily ferments. If you will be storing it over time, do not include these fruits as the fruit salad will ferment quickly and spoil.

Also note that pomegranates are ideal to add to the fruit salad, but the syrup leeches the color from them, turning the entire thing into a funky dark purple tone. Still good, in fact delicious, but the color requires encouraging your guests to consume it.

2011 Update

We serviced this amazing fruit salad recipe at my father’s funeral in honor of him and his last ditch effort towards health. I’ve learned a lot since them about my own health and am taking active steps to make even more healthy choices.

Among them is that I’ve been juicing up fruits and vegetables and getting their wonderful nutritional values straight into my system. I’ve done extensive research for the past six years, and a lot of money spent on trial and error decisions, on a new juicer and the one that I now recommend for straight juicing is the Omega Vert Hd Vrt350 Juicer.

There are a lot of great videos on YouTube to show you head to head comparisons of this juicer against others, but I found from my tests that this one meets my needs because of its small footprint and light weight (about 20 pounds compared to 35 to 40 pounds to lift), and its unique vertical auger which grinds and compresses the food to make excellent juice with moderate to minimal foam. The pulp it compresses out is fairly dry, which I use to make seasoned crackers, in raw food breads and cookies, and on salads, if appropriate. It pulls the food into the hopper making it much easier to use than pushing and shoving the food down.

It will do just about any fruit or vegetable very well, and will also do wheat grass, a nice addition to a healthy lifestyle.

Unfortunately, the manufacturer made some bone head decisions in marketing and releasing this juicer and others in their line. If you are facing the same confusion as I did, over which to get, the vrt330, vrt350, vrt350 HD, vrt330HD, or Hurom model, read this excellent article Omega VRT330 VRT vs  Hurom Slow Juicer HU-100 Comparison by Discount Juicers. I’m an affiliate with Amazon, but they have the same prices currently as Amazon, and free ground shipping, so consider their expert advice, too.

If you are deadly serious about juicing, consider the Omega vrt350HD or the Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Commercial Masticating Juicer, Black and Chrome, which is next on my list in a couple years as I like its ability to make nut butters and homogenized raw ice creams from frozen fruits. With this pair, it looks like your raw foods and juicing tasks are licked.

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