I have always loved my family’s fruit salad, but maybe that is because it is as much dessert as salad, and you know how much I love dessert.  This salad was always, and I mean always, on our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables, but I love it any time of year.  Even though I will always want the original version from time to time, I decided it was time to update this recipe a little.  However, first I would like to share my memories of the original.

Mom always started by chopping an apple into 1/2 inch chunks.  Then she peeled an orange or two and cut the orange into 1/2 inch chunks.  Next she added a small can of crushed pineapple along with the juice.  When I got married to Jeff, he liked grapefruit in his fruit salad, so we started adding chunks of fresh grapefruit sections too.

Now to the dessert part.  Mom added about 1/2 a cup of chopped pecans, a handful or two of mini marshmallows, and about a 1/3 a cup of quartered maraschino cherries (you know, the ones that go on hot fudge sundaes).   Mom would spoon a large portion of the fruit salad  on a pretty lettuce leaf and then Dad would add the crowning glory— a dollop of freshly whipped cream that he had sweetened with a little sugar and flavored with a little pure vanilla!  The leftovers made an amazing breakfast the next morning too!

Now for the updates.  I decided to stick with the grapefruit, orange, apple, crushed pineapple, and pecans.  I love the crunchy texture the pecans add, and the crushed pineapple pulls the other fresh fruits together.  (Note that you can substitute very ripe, finally chopped fresh pineapple for the crushed pineapple if you want to stick with all fresh fruit.)  But for a fresher version of the salad, I decided to skip the mini marshmallows and replace the maraschino cherries with fresh cherries.  I found beautiful Rainier cherries that I decided would add color and delicious natural sweetness.

But the problem with using fresh cherries is the pits!  They are a pain to remove.  However, I love gadgets and tend to collect them, so not too long ago I bought a cherry and olive pitter.  It is definitely worth buying if you plan to cook with a lot of fresh cherries or want to pit a large number of olives!

Just remove the stem from the cherry and place it in the opening as shown above.  Then when you squeeze the pitter, the metal shaft will puncture the bottom of the cherry and push the pit out the other end.  The plastic shield helps to prevent the pits from flying all over the place, but you still need to be careful to point the plastic shaft downward.  The result (see below) is a cherry that looks as if it is still intact, but as you can see the pit has been removed.

After pitting the cherries, I assembled the chopped fruit and pecans in a bowl and gave them a gentle stir to evenly distribute the ingredients.  Then I garnished the salad (or is it dessert?!) with a few whole pecans and cherries.

Jeff and I decided that the updated version was a winner.  Mom even approved when I served it with Christmas dinner!  Don’t tell, but I did add a dollop of whipped cream.  After all, it was Christmas!

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