Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Ambrosia has moved on to more of a fruit salad these days, here made with apples, bananas, mandarin oranges, mini marshmallows, pecans, coconut and maraschino cherries, but it started out very simply once containing oranges and coconut.

Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Ah, ambrosia... a southern favorite for sure. Classic, old fashioned ambrosia usually had only two ingredients though - oranges and coconut - served most often with a dressing of orange juice and sugar. That is a true ambrosia.

These days ambrosia has moved more into the category of a fruit salad however, having a varied mixture of a wide range of fruit from oranges, to apples, pineapples, pears, even grapefruit, and served with some kind of dressing - often sour cream, whipped cream or yogurt based, though my preference is a juice based dressing. I like mine with a mixture of fruit, and that is why I call my version an Ambrosia Fruit Salad. The type of fruit you use is relative, as are the amounts, though generally at least one thing is common to all ambrosia recipes and that is coconut. I say use what you like, what you have and what makes you happy.

If I have some seedless red grapes, I really like to add a couple handfuls of those too, halved - I just didn't have any on hand at the time of making this one. What I've listed here are really guesstimates and usually enough for about 6 servings, depending on the size of your individual serving dishes. It's good for about 4 of those you see in that tall glass pictured above.

What fruit is included in your traditional fruit salad or ambrosia, and how do you dress your version?

Ambrosia Fruit Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 8 hours | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1/2 to 1 cup of orange juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar, or to taste
  • 2 sweet or sweet-tart apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 to 2 bananas, chopped, optional
  • 1 can of mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 handfuls of mini marshmallows, optional
  • 2 handfuls of pecans, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of sweetened, shredded coconut
  • Maraschino cherries, for garnish

Grab a glass mixing bowl, large enough to hold all the ingredients, and whisk together the orange juice and powdered sugar in the bottom of the bowl. Chop apples and gently toss with the orange juice mixture to coat. Layer the oranges, marshmallows, pecans and coconut on top of the apple. Toss gently to mix. Cover and refrigerate, gently stirring occasionally. Just before serving, add the sliced bananas, and give another gentle stir and taste. Add additional powdered sugar and stir in if a sweeter taste is desired. Using a slotted spoon to drain most of the juice, spoon into tall dessert glasses or cups and top with a tiny sprinkle of coconut and one cherry.

Cook's Note: I used Gala apples.

True Southern Ambrosia: Use one large naval orange per serving desired. For 4 servings, working on a ridged cutting board to capture any juices, section 4 naval oranges. Cut both ends of the orange off and run a sharp paring knife down the curved sides of the orange, cutting just into the flesh and removing all of the white pith, so that only the flesh of the orange remains. Section by running the knife along the inside of the membrane of the orange for each section. Place a single layer of oranges in a storage bowl, sprinkle very lightly with granulated sugar to taste if needed. Grate fresh coconut (or frozen, thawed coconut) over the top and repeat layers. Do not use the shelf stable coconut. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight. Toss and spoon into small dessert bowls to serve, spooning accumulated juices from the bottom over each serving.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on November 13, 2008

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  1. It seems every Southern family has an ambrosia recipe. We use navel oranges, crushed pineapple, sugar, frozen coconut, and cherries. Then serve with whipped cream and walnuts.
    Thanks for all the lovely recipes. I am going to be a follower.

  2. My Ambrosia is a easy one. Easily kept on hand in your pantry for use year round.

    2-3 cans of the DelMonte Fruit Salad (red and white grapefruit sections)w/juice
    2 cans of Mandrin oranges segments-drain one can..
    1 jar stemless Marchino cherries drained and halved(check for pits)
    1 cup coconut(or to taste)

    Mix the above ingredients let set over night to marry flavors.

    This is easy as no peeling of the oranges and grapefruits. You can use this anytime of the year.No worries about fruit being in season.
    It makes a great breakfast in the summer or winter.
    You can expand this to feed more by just adding more cans of fruit in the portions you desire.
    This makes a great base to add more ingredients to to make it your own.
    Love the site and the recipes!

    1. Thank you!! Your recipe was exactly what I was looking for!!

    2. Thank you so much for your recipe!! This was exactly what I was looking for.

  3. Thanks so much Denise and thanks for sharing your ambrosia! I love that DelMonte fruit salad as a snack - can't see how it wouldn't also be great in an ambrosia!

  4. My ambrosia is very simple:

    1 pkg flavored mini marshmellows
    2 cans mandrin oranges
    large can pineapple chuncks
    grapes cut in half
    Sour cream to mix it all together.

    Let set overnight

  5. Mine is also very simple
    2 large can fruit cocktail drained
    1 15 ounce can pineapple chunks
    2 cans mandarin slices drained
    2 cups mini marshmellows
    3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
    1 small tub of cool whip
    mix all ingredients together in a large glass bowl cover tightly and refrigerate (preferrably overnight)
    This is always a favorite at any gathering,I dont make it often its too addictive!

  6. Thanks Becky - sounds good!! You are right it is TOTALLY addictive. Guess that's why it so popular for the holidays.

  7. Ambrosia was always one of my very Southern grandmother's favorites. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  8. I do Waldorf salad at Thanksgiving. Apples seem more appropriate then.

    At Christmas, I use my ambrosia. It has red grapefruit sections, Mandarin oranges, coconut, red and green Maraschino cherries, fresh pineapple chunks, and a poppy seed dressing.

  9. My grandmother made this ALL the time growing up, and I've tried explaining it to my Norwegian husband- along with that pale green jello salad old ladies always brought to church suppers.

    My grandmothers version included apples, bananas, orange segments and grapes- and was dressed with... mayonnaise. Serious. Not a lot, just a small amount mixed with fruit juice and a little sugar. It was really good!

  10. Hi Charlotte! We do "ambrosia" fruit salad at both holidays and I do like it with apples! I'm sure that must be an amazing ambrosia - sure sounds it.

    I can see that with a bit of mayo - sort of a cross between ambrosia and waldorf really! And I also adore Watergate Salad. Bet there are quite a few differences between Norwegian and Southern U.S. food!

  11. My Dad made old fashioned ambrosia but added a jar of maraschino cherries. The cherry juice added a bit of sweetness and turned the grated coconut pink. Very pretty dish.

    The last time I had ambrosia was over 25 years ago when my Dad was fighting a losing battle with cancer. I made a large bowl of ambrosia and took it to him just before Christmas.

    Grating fresh coconut is a lot of work but worth it in the end. I always seem to leave part of my knuckles on the grater :-)


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