Fruit Salad

Elena Peña (The Freeman) - December 18, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Christmas is generally associated with food overload, what with the string of feasts for almost the whole month of December. And Christmas food – in the Philippines, particularly – often consists of rich, fatty meat dishes. Christmas meals, after all, are traditionally among the biggest feasts that Filipinos look forward to.

There is often little room for fruits and vegetables in the Filipino Christmas meal. The main dishes would usually have little vegetables in the ingredients. And fruits are put in simply for decoration purposes.

Where there are fruits in the dessert tray, diners would rather have the creamy leche flan or the sweet bread pudding – or the cakes, of course. It seems Christmas is just not time for fruits and vegetables. But there’s one fruit treat that is always creatively able to sneak its way into the Filipino palate even at Christmas – the fruit salad.

Okay, the fruit salad, the type that Filipinos have come to love, is likely not a Filipino original.  An original Filipino fruit salad, for example, could not have nata de coco, since early Filipinos didn’t have the technology for making the ingredient nor the means to source it elsewhere. The liking for fruit salad must have proliferated in the country during the late American period, when canned goods were sent from the U.S. to the American troops detailed in Philippines.

Canned fruit cocktail was certainly part of the American troops’ provisions, and milk and cream, too. In addition, the technology to make the other key ingredients locally would have been part of the imports. Simple fruit salad could be made from canned fruit cocktail and equal amounts of cream and sweetened condensed milk.

Other ingredients are added – nata de coco, kaong, and tapioca pearls – to make the fruit salad “more interesting.” Connie Veneracion, in an article at www.thespruce.com, writes that the fruit cocktail may also be augmented by canned pineapples and peaches, and meat from fresh young coconuts. These may be combined with the sweet canned fruits and preserves, she adds.

Veneracion shares a recipe which, she says, “still captures the essence of the Filipino fruit salad,” despite the inclusion of new ingredients. Anyone who wants to try it at home shall feel free to change the proportions of the ingredients, she adds.

Filipino-Style Fruit Salad


2 cups well-drained canned fruit cocktail, chilled

2 cups diced canned peaches, well drained and chilled

¼ cup sweetened condensed milk, well-chilled

½ cup cream, well-chilled


1. In a bowl, mix well the fruit cocktail and peaches.

2. Lightly whip the cream and sweetened condensed milk.

3. Pour over the fruit cocktail and peaches. Mix well.

4. Keep chilled until serving time.

This recipe serves four to six persons.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with