When you think of how exotic these ingredients may have been to people of that age, it really is kind of amazing that ambrosia is a thing at all! The oranges were most likely grown in the southern states, notably, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The coconuts, however were shipped from far away exotic locales like Figi in the South Pacific, travelling here on steam ships, to the port in San Francisco and then traveling further on a train to the Eastern U.S. That's a long way to travel for a little bit of tropical salad!
In my research I found that Ambrosia was a very popular dish during Christmas in the south. I would imagine that this was a time when citrus was plentiful and coconuts were so special that the occasion of Christmas was a welcomed reason to use them in recipes. It was also, most likely a status symbol that a family could even afford to serve this tropical treat to guests.
Fast forward a hundred years and we see many different incarnations of "ambrosia". The original, orange and coconut version is still popular amongst die hard cooks. But now other ingredients have made this dish what we know it to be today. The creation of marshmallows and canned or "tinned" fruits and the inclusion of whipped or sour cream or both have made ambrosia what we know today. At least this is what I think of when I think of ambrosia.
I grew up with this delicious dish. A mish mash of pantry ingredients and a tub of whipped topping. NOTE: My mom never used the whipped topping, my grandmother did. Mommom's was always tastier but Mom's was much richer. These ingredients blended together into a magical concoction that was ever present at many a family gathering and no holiday table was complete without it.
I have used 1, 20 ounce can of pineapple tid-bits that were drained. 2, 15 ounce cans of mandarin oranges that were also drained along with one small jar of maraschino cherries that I drained and patted dry on paper towels. The dressing is 1 cup of sour cream, 1 small tub (8 to 10 ounces) of whipped topping, I used Tru-Whip mixed together and then the fruit and coconut added. Then the finishing touch of one 10 ounce bag of the pastel, fruit flavored mini marshmallows. This blends into a lovely, light and delicious treat that is perfect anytime and I believe is really perfect as a summer dessert to cap of a hot day in the cool of the evening.
So while this may not be the fruit of the Gods and us mere mortals may not die from enjoying Ambrosia, this is a delicious memory of my youth and I imagine it may be of yours as well. If you have never tried Ambrosia, I encourage you to do so soon. You can add to or take away the fruits you don't like. Many people use halved fresh green grapes or I have even seen this made with canned fruit cocktail added to it. No matter what you choose, it will be deliciously yours!
I hope you give this retro recipe for ambrosia a try sometime soon and I hope you love it!
Say the word Ambrosia and what do you think of? Do you think of the fruit of the Gods of Mount Olympus? Do you think of a delicious side dish from church supper or do you think of something altogether different? While Ambrosia may have been the food of the Gods, for me it is a throwback to my childhood. Delicious fruits blended with coconut and a creamy dressing. Don't forget the Marshmallows! To call this a "salad" would be using the term loosely, but in the south, where mac and cheese and corn bread are "vegetables" anything is possible! So today I am sharing this delicious retro recipe for ambrosia salad! If you don't know it, I am so glad to be able to introduce you!
The history of Ambrosia salad as we know it today is actually much older than you may think. The first known published recipes date as far back as 1867 and called for nothing more than citrus fruit, mostly oranges and freshly cracked and grated pineapple. These were layered together with a bit of sugar and ambrosia was born.
1 – 20 ounce can pineapple tidbits drained
2 – 15 ounce cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained and dried on paper towel.
1 cup sour cream
1, 10 or 12 ounce tub frozen whipped topping
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1, 10 ounce bag fruit flavored mini marshmallows
1 Cup good quality mayonnaise
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
In a large bowl, combine sour cream and whipped topping.
Add oranges, pineapple tidbits, cherries and coconut and stir well, folding gently to combine.
Add marshmallows and fold in to incorporate.
Place mixture in a serving bowl and garnish with more coconut, marshmallows and cherries if desired.
Refrigerate for at least two hours, but overnight is best and serve.
This will keep well, covered in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Let's Be Social!
Hi! I'm Noreen, wife, mother of two amazing, almost grown, daughters, content creator, cook, baker and sister in Christ. Welcome to my Kitchen! I hope you stick around, enjoy the recipes and share them with those you love!
Noreen's Kitchen © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.