Tapioca Fruit Salad: A Family Tradition

tapioca fruit saladOur extended family will celebrate Christmas the Saturday after Thanksgiving this year. Grandma Josie’s tapioca fruit salad will grace our table. The recipe for this delectable family favorite debuted on this blog in January of 2012 and is making a return appearance for two reasons. First, it keeps making the rounds on Pinterest. Secon I’m still slaving over the PTSD book edits to meet the November 30 deadline so there’s hardly time to cook, much less try new recipes!

Today’s recipe comes from my mother’s mother, Josephine Newell Hess. She made huge batches of this tapioca fruit salad when her 8 children, their spouses, and her 39 grandchildren gathered for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once she was unable to host the gatherings, the recipe was lost for many years. Finally, my sister and I were so hungry for it, we recreated the dish with help from Mom. Now we serve it at Thanksgiving and Christmas and eat it as greedily as hobbits do mushrooms.

Though the recipe below doesn’t make as big a batch as Grandma whipped up in her prime, it’s still enough to fill a large Tupperware bowl. Why make so much? Because we love to eat what’s left over the next morning for breakfast!

Holiday Tapioca Fruit Salad

1 box (8 ounces) large pearl tapioca
4 cups water, divided into two equal parts
1/2 cup sugar
1 20 ounce can pineapple tidbits
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1-2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 apples, cored and diced
2 bananas, sliced
2 oranges, diced

The night before the meal, put tapioca in a medium bowl. Add 2 cups of water to the tapioca, cover, and let soak overnight.

Several hours before serving, place soaked tapioca in heavy saucepan. Add 2 cups water and the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until most of the tapioca is translucent and the mixture is very thick. Pour into a large bowl and immediately add pineapple (juice and all) into the thick tapioca. Stir thoroughly. Put in the refrigerator or on the porch to cool.

An hour before serving whip the cream. Add sugar and vanilla. In a large bowl mix the tapioca, fruit, (except the bananas), and whipped cream together. Immediately before the meal, slice the bananas and stir them in, along with the nuts.

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