Learning how to keep fruit salad fresh will save you from having to toss any bad fruit salad! Check out my favorite tips for storing fruit salad well.
Fruit salad is the best side dish for brunches, picnics, barbecues, family gatherings and even Christmas dinner. It's healthy and it's sweet, all in one. Sometimes we even eat it for dessert!
But have you ever made fruit salad, served it and put leftovers in the fridge, only to discover it's no good when you're ready to enjoy it again?
Me too. It's the WORST. Especially if you love fruit salad as much as my family does!
How to keep fruit salad fresh
Fruit salad is tricky to keep fresh, but there are a few things you can do to keep your fruit salad fresh for longer.
It starts with preparing your fruits the right way and continues to the way you store it as well.
1. Wait as long as possible to start making your fruit salad.
Plan ahead and save your fruit salad for last when you're preparing a big meal.
For example, I wait to make my Thanksgiving fruit salad until the turkey is about to come out of the oven.
I don't recommend making it more than a day before you plan to serve it to others to avoid the risk of brown fruit.
I like to pop my fruit into these produce savers as soon as I get home from the grocery store to keep my produce fresh until I'm ready to make fruit salad.
Remember to skip washing the fruit until you are ready to assemble the fruit salad.
2. Douse the fruits in an acidic juice.
When fruits are cut, the enzymes inside the skins that keep the fruits fresh will begin to break down when exposed to oxygen, causing them to change color, according to the University of Nevada-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
This commonly happens to apples, pears, peaches and bananas, but it can happen to other fruits like berries as well.
The best way to combat this is with an acidic substance like citrus juice. Once you have your fruits cut, cover them in something acidic to keep them from browning when exposed to oxygen.
Examples of acidic fruit juice:
- lemon juice
- lime juice
- orange juice
- pineapple juice
Lemon juice sounds like it would be cloying and make the fruit salad taste sour, but you can't tell, I promise! It's actually a very common thing to add to cut fruit when baking with it, such as in an apple pie.
Orange juice is my go-to for this Fresh Fruit Salad. It doubles as a fruit salad dressing and it's very flavorful.
You can also mix in cut-up acidic fruits into your fruit salad. Try adding chunks of pineapple or slices of orange and grapefruit into your fruit salad.
If you go this route, cut the acidic fruits first, then add in the fruits that will brown, stirring it up as you go.
3. Save sensitive fruits for last.
However, if you are using fruits that brown very easily like bananas, you are better off waiting until right before serving to add them.
If you must prepare your fruit salad early, just skip the banana entirely or cut it up right before serving the fruit salad. You can also douse bananas in lemon juice — being sure to coat them on all sides — to ensure freshness.
And if your bananas aren't looking awesome by the time it's time to make your fruit salad, you can always toss them in the freezer for smoothies or use them in a baked good like banana chocolate chip muffins.
4. Use a dressing.
Adding a dressing to your fruit salad, especially if it contains citrus or honey, will help to preserve those enzymes.
Poppy seed dressing is a favorite for dressing up a fruit salad. It's got a lot of texture thanks to the poppy seeds, while also being quite creamy with a zing of lemon flavor.
If you don't like the creaminess of poppy seed dressing, try this dairy-free poppy seed dressing with honey and lime — another great version!
My whipped cream fruit salad has another popular dressing. The fruit is first coated in lemon juice, then mixed with homemade whipped cream that's flavored with honey. I recommend adding the whipped cream just before serving if possible.
Simple syrup is another "dressing" you can use. The sugar helps to preserve the fruits as well.
5. Cover it well.
As soon as you're done assembling the fruit salad, be sure to cover it right away to prevent any air from getting to it.
Use a big mixing bowl with a lid, or you can use plastic wrap that clings well to the bowl. It's important to keep air OUT of your fruit salad.
6. Store in the fridge.
Once covered, stash your fruit salad in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
The longer it sits out, the more likely it will begin to turn brown, so bring it out just before serving begins.
As soon as the meal is over, put the fruit salad back in the fridge, covered, to keep it fresh until it's time to eat your leftovers.
How long does fruit salad stay fresh?
Fruit salad will last 3-5 days if you prepare your fruit properly, add something acidic like lemon juice or a dressing, and store the fruit salad covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
However, it will be freshest the day you make it, and you can expect the fruits to brown within a few days.
Can fruit salad be made the night before?
While I always recommend making it the day of, if you must make it the night before, it should still be just fine. Make sure to use something acidic, cover it well and store it in the fridge to ensure freshness.