Did any of you grow up eating fruit cocktail from the little tiny can? My mom served it all the time, and I don’t know if I’m remembering it right, but I think our whole family shared the one little can. Not because we couldn’t afford more, but because fruit was way down the totem pole of food priorities, dwarfed by meat and potatoes.
I remember the fruit was cut up in perfect little cubes, all in faded pastel shades. There were pale green grapes— I think they were peeled —and a lone pink cherry. We used to fight over that cherry.
This idea came to me when I noticed that, amazingly, they’re still selling the stuff! This is my homage to that little can of fruit.
Instead of insipid chunks of mushy pear and pathetic little skinned grapes, how about mango, papaya, berries, and melons. How about drenching them in a rum-enhanced simple syrup? They do call it a fruit cocktail, after all.
This is an ideal use for leftover fruit. Cut it all in uniform small dice, and use a good variety of color and texture. It has the same appeal as a chopped salad—it takes a little prep but the result is worth it. It’s also a good way to introduce kids to a wider variety of fruits. (Leave out the rum, of course.)
I used watermelon, honeydew melon, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, papaya, kiwi, grapes, pineapple, and cocktail cherries for garnish.
- assorted fruit: use what's in season, but use a variety of colors and textures
- cherries and mint leaves for garnish
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- several sprigs of fresh mint
- 1/4 cup white rum
- Dice the fruit into uniformly small cubes. For the best results, put the fruit directly into small serving dishes. This will help keep the fruit intact.
- Pour a little Rum Simple Syrup over each dish and serve garnished with a cherry and a few mint leaves.
- To make the syrup, combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and stir well. Heat to a boil, stirring to dissolve all the sugar. Boil, uncovered, for 3 minutes.
- Take the syrup off the heat and add the mint and rum. Muddle, or crush, the mint leaves with a wooden spoon so they release their essential oils.
- Cool and then strain the syrup.
- You can keep the syrup in a jar with a tight fitting lid in the fridge indefinitely.
Just omit the rum if you are serving this to the family.
Serve it as a first course, or for dessert. Spoon it over yogurt or granola for breakfast, again, probably without the rum ;)
I’m dying to know— who’s still buying those cans!?