Rosa’s Fruit Salad Recipe

by | Dec 24, 2015 | a slice of life, Food & Fitness | 21 comments

I’ve mentioned my great-grandmother Rosa’s fruit salad many times on this blog over the years.  It’s a must-have at Thanksgiving and Christmas in my family.  It is citrusy and sweet and we all look forward to it each holiday.

I only make it twice a year, but Rosa used to make it once a week in single-serving aluminum molds to keep in her fridge for when the grandkids stopped by.  I just love that and I almost want to do it, but I would probably eat all of them and that wouldn’t be a good thing.

This is Rosa, holding her daughter, my Oma (grandmother), also named Marian.


Most of our family recipes came from Rosa and most of them are pretty common southern favorites like cheese straws, biscuits, pimento cheese spread, and teacakes.

But her fruit salad seems to be pretty unique.  I have never, ever been served it or have seen a recipe like it anywhere else.  Some of you have asked for the recipe and now I am finally sharing it with you.



Rosa's Fruit Salad

A vintage-style congealed citrus salad.


  • 2 oranges
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 1 20 oz can pineapple chunks in fruit juice
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries
  • 1 box Knox gelatin (4 envelopes)
  • 1 cup sugar


  • Peel and section grapefruit and oranges into a large bowl, adding juice as well.
  • Drain pineapples, reserving juice. Add pineapples to bowl with grapefruit and oranges.
  • Add 1 cup white granulated sugar and juice of two lemons and stir.  (If you want to cut the sugar, I've used as little as 1/2 cup and it still tasted sweet.)  
  • Dissolve gelatin in 1 cup of cold water.
  • Add water to pineapple juice to make 1 cup liquid total. Pour into a pan and bring to a boil. Combine hot pineapple juice with water and gelatin. Stir until combined and add to fruit.
  • If using a mold or small molds, line with maraschino cherries. Fill with fruit mixture and chill. If serving in a bowl or casserole, stir cherries into fruit and gelatin mixture and chill until set, usually 4-6 hours.


We all love leftovers, so I almost always make a double batch and, when I do, I throw in extra oranges and grapefruit and just double everything else.

One important note, you cannot use FRESH pineapple for this recipe.  The gelatin will not set if you use fresh.

This is also a juicy, sticky mess to make, so it’s a good idea to use a cutting board with a trough, if you have one, like one used for carving meat.


As I mentioned above, the original recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar.  I have kept cutting it back to see how little sugar I can put in it and still have it be sweet.  If you use good fruit, there is plenty of sweetness in the oranges and pineapple to just add a 1/2 cup.  I tend to not like things super-sweet, though.

Except my blog readers.  I like them super-sweet.

So, I hope some of you try the recipe and let me know what you think!  It’s a great way to use citrus that you get in a holiday gift basket.


  1. Argelia Brown

    Isn’t it funny how small the world is, I too have my mother-in-laws jello recipe that has been passed down to me along with the bowl! I have never seen this jello recipe anywhere else, and it to must be made twice a year! Aren’t families great? Happy Holidays

    • beverlee lyons

      share yours? I love jello recipes! especially the ‘g’mas’

  2. B Folk

    The fruit salad sounds wonderful. Will have to make a 1/2 batch to see how it goes over.
    As much as I enjoy your blog, I do hope that you do not post on Christmas! Take a day or two (or three) off for a well-deserved rest with your family. We, your readers, will live. And, absence makes the heart grow fonder, so when you do post again, it will be like a late and much-anticipated Christmas gift.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Marian; and, to Kriste and hers!

  3. Denise

    Marian you look just like your great grandmother! Have a wonderful Merry Christmas!

  4. Anya

    Thank you for sharing this! These sorts of recipes are just so special, and I love how they are passed down and on. Some of my most treasured recipes are those that my Nana and Mom made year after year, the recipe cards faded and covered in splatters. Thank you for sharing this special one with us. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  5. LindaSonia

    Who doesn’t love a good ole fruit salad? and most especially one that has endured over time. I will try this out and maybe it will become part of my family’s traditions. Thanks for sharing.

    Happiest Christmas to you and yours. I enjoy your blog very much.

  6. Joan Schmidman

    I make this fruit salad often for family, but no gelatin. Usually bananas, oranges and maraschino cherries with a little maraschino juice. No sugar. My grandkids love it, and it’s easy.

  7. Marlene Stephenson

    It is great having recipes from our families handed down. I too thank you look like your grandmother. Have a very Merry Christmas with your family and make memories to cherish.

  8. Jennifer Holton

    You are so kind to share your family recipe Marian. I can’t wait to make it for my family! I agree, you should take a day or two off from posting. I enjoy reading all your posts and appreciate all you have taught me over the years. One day…I will get to Luckett’s and say hi. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  9. PJ

    Merry Christmas to you and yours! I agree with B Folk above. We love to hear from you, but we want you to enjoy your holidays and take care of yourself. All the best…

  10. Tina O.

    Your resemblance to Rosa is quite apparent! Thanks for sharing this recipe and your memories. I’ve been meaning to put my mom’s recipes together to share with my siblings and this makes me realize they truly would enjoy receiving them. Happy Hoiidays!

  11. Kim in MN

    Marian, I was excited to read your fruit salad recipe, then very surprised to see that it is identical, except for one aspect, to a beloved, handed-down recipe in my husband’s family. My mother-in-law made this at each holiday and it was eagerly awaited by everyone. The difference? The fruit was cut into small pieces and everything was frozen in a 9 x 13 pan. At serving time it was cut into squares, placed in a small bowl, with 7-Up poured over. One poked at it woth a spoon until it was slushy and wonderful to eat. It was called Slush. Such wonderful memories are connected to the sharing of food!

  12. mary m young

    I just finished making Jell-O surprise for our dinner tomorrow. It was my mother in laws favorite recipe and I always make it for state occasion. Strawberry jello,crushed pineapple, 3 bananas,
    and one container of sliced strawberries blended.. I fill half of a Tupperware mold with the jello surprise then spoon sour cream in a ring. Then add the rest of the jello. It never had a name until a
    future son in law came for dinner and said that Jello surprise sure is good.

    My mother used to make ambrosia which was cut up oranges bananas and coconut with a
    spash of grand manier liquor. My aunt used to make Millionaires Salad which was nothing more than fruit cocktail,marshmallows, and cool whip. Too sweet for me today.

    I will definitely try your Nana’s jello and it might be a new jello surprise in our house!
    Enjoy the day with your family, Marian. You propably don’t realize that these are the best
    years of your life with these little ones as they grow up way too fast and on to other things.

  13. Linda Latt

    You look so much like your great grandmother. I see in reading some of the comments that others see the similarities as well. Thanks for sharing I am going to try this recipe; it sounds wonderful. My favorite recipe from the holidays is my mother’s cranberry and orange relish; it is yummy, tangy and sweet.

  14. Radiant Raven

    Can any of you lovely ladies tell me if I am supposed to take all the membrane off of the fruit? I peeled them, but am I supposed to just get the “meat” out of them? I am trying to make this today and I got confused.
    Thanks, Raven

  15. mary m young

    Raven, It looks like all of the membrane is removed and sliced and diced. Mary

  16. Heather Anne

    My Mum’s friend Patricia makes a very similar fruit salad and it is always a ‘hit’ – so refreshing and tasty! She’s passed on the recipe and I’ve made it a few times – when the grapefruit are at their peak it just lovely! Thanks for reminding me of this old family favorite!

  17. Linda

    I just made this delicious fruit salad and the gelatin didn’t set. I’m not sure why, but it is still yummy! Thanks Marion!

  18. Terri

    This sounds Delicious!!! May i say …. you look just like your Great Grandmother!! Oh my goodness….. Beautiful picture!!! What a wonderful heritage!!!

  19. Annie @ Annie's Art Affair

    How wonderful that you are able to make and share your Oma’s recipes all these years later. I, also, use some of my Oma’s recipes, kitchen utensils and spoons she used. I wanted to be an Oma but my mother is still living –just turned 94– and she is the Oma in our family. I have to admit that I’m a little jealous that my cousin is the Oma in her family. So glad you shared this. A link to the past is a good thing.

  20. beverlee lyons

    thank you, I am making this, and using sugar free most everything, and Splenda. Both diabetics. Merry Christmas, and many blessings to all of you.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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