Summertime is synonymous with fresh fruit, so it’s no wonder why we consume so much fruit salad during these warm months. It’s sweet, refreshing and so easy to make, but for those in the know, there is actually more to it than just chopping up a bunch of fruit and tossing it in a bowl. Not all fruit salads are created equal. There are a few tricks you can follow to enhance the flavors and make the dish more pleasing to the eye. Here are 9 tricks to help you make your best fruit salads this summer, and all year long.

1. Buy fruit in season

Fruit is flown in daily from around the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s fresh. It was likely picked weeks ago — before it was ripe and ready. It was packaged, bruised, stored and shipped before it ever made it to your grocery market. Instead, you should look for local produce, or at least produce from the same country or continent. Local, seasonally available produce will add the most flavor to your fruit salad.

2. Mix flavors, colors and textures 

Think about the fruits you intend to include. Are there too many red fruits? Are the textures too similar? No one likes a fruit salad with all mushy fruits. Consider things like the color pop of a firm, tart, green kiwi next to a soft, sweet, blackberry or the flavor combo of an orange mango with a red raspberry. This is one time when it’s easy and delicious to eat the rainbow — go for it!

3. Preparation

Your salad will suffer if you don’t take time to remove skins, stems and pits when necessary. Fruits like cherries and grapes may need some seeds removed, while blue berries may have some sneaky, unwanted stems. Kiwis could use peeled — and possibly apples too. Anything that delays the rhythm of eating the salad is seen as an annoyance to diners, so think ahead and make each bite easy to swallow.

4. Cut consistent slices

It’s true — we eat with our eyes. Chopping similar sized pieces not only makes the salad more pleasing to look at, but makes it easier to eat, too. Whatever the size, just stick to it.

5. Even parts of all fruits 

Keep the proportions of the fruits even, so each bowl has a healthy mixture. No one wants to be stuck with a bowl of the leftovers from the bottom.

6. Skip the watermelon

It’s a summertime staple. It just doesn’t have any place in fruit salad. Think about it. Watermelon is 90% water, and when that water seeps to the bottom of the bowl, the flavors of all of the other delicious fruits start to taste like watermelon. It makes the salad overly wet and throws off all of the other flavors you’ve worked hard to prepare.

6. Add herbs

No need to to limit your salad to fruit. Fresh herbs from the garden can enhance the dish. Mint is especially refreshing with melon and citrus. While a bit of basil can be a great accompaniment to berries.

7. Add a touch of sugar to tough fruit

If you have some apples or strawberries in the fridge that you want to include, but they’re tough and overly tart, sprinkle with some granulated sugar. The crystals will dissolve into the flesh and create a softer, sweeter piece of fruit.

8. Squeeze some citrus

Fresh citrus zest can enhance all of the flavors in a fruit salad, while fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice can keep the fruits from turning brown. One or two tablespoons should work the magic.

9. Don’t skimp of the sweet stuff

If you’re having a large party it might be tempting to make a salad mostly with inexpensive melon — but we all know that trick. If costs are getting out of control, consider just purchasing a few perfectly ripe watermelons and serve your guests slices. They’ll appreciate a sweet slice of watermelon much more than a bowl full of bland honeydew.

Also see, Zesty itrus, pomegranate salad.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.