This is one of my favorite recipes of all time. Actually, it’s hardly a recipe. Just two, maybe three ingredients and a little work is all that’s required, but the result? Well, it tastes like Heaven to me. Simple ingredients with a bright, clean flavor. The bright, slightly acidic bite of orange paired with an almost creamy sweetness from the coconut. Yum. Yum.
I vividly remember Mama’s Ambrosia being on our table for Christmas every year when I was a child. And I remember Mama standing at the kitchen counter peeling and peeling and peeling oranges. The kitchen smelled like an orange grove in bloom by the time she was finished.
Over the years, I’ve found that there are about as many recipes for ambrosia as there are cooks making ambrosia. And over those years I’ve also never found another ambrosia recipe as simple as this one. I believe most people think of ambrosia as a combination of oranges, pineapple, coconut and other fruits, with some sort of sweet dressing such as “cool whip” or sour cream. In our family, we call that fruit salad. It’s not so different from our ambrosia, and it’s delicious too, but for us…this is ambrosia. But let me also make one thing clear – whichever way your Mama makes it…that’s the right way :-)
You’ll need one large Navel orange for each serving of Ambrosia. These were just beautiful. Bright, blemish-free skin and so juicy and sweet!
Peel your oranges and remove all of the white pith. That pith is bitter and you don’t want it in your lovely, sweet ambrosia. Now, there are several methods of peeling oranges, but the one I learned and still use is the round and round one. I just start at the end opposite the “navel” and peel around using a sawing motion of the knife until I reach the other end. This works for me. Some people cut a slice off either end, stand the orange on one end and cut in a downward motion removing sections of peel as they go. Do whatever works best for you.
Now, once you have your oranges peeled and all the pith removed, you want to cut the oranges into sections following the lines of the membranes inside the orange. Those sections, when removed from the orange, are called “supremes.” Section the oranges while working over a bowl to catch the juices. Holding the orange firmly in one hand and using a thin, very sharp knife, cut down as close to the membrane as possible going from tip to bottom and all the way through to the core. Repeat on the other side of the orange section. Turn your knife to the side gently to release the “supreme.” This does take a little work and practice, but I think it makes a much nicer presentation. However, if you just can’t manage the supremes, then cut the oranges crosswise into about 1/2″ thick slices.
When you have removed all the orange sections, give the core and membranes a gentle squeeze to remove any remaining juice allowing it to fall back into the bowl. Discard the core and membranes.
Taste the oranges and, only if needed, add a tablespoon or two of sugar. I usually don’t need any or just a very minimum amount.
Scatter the shredded coconut over the oranges. Gently stir it together taking care not to break the orange supremes you worked so hard on :-)
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to blend.
Enjoy! If blood oranges are available, substitute half for the Navel oranges.
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If blood oranges are available, substitute half for the Navel oranges.
Other ambrosia recipes you might enjoy:
- Blood Orange Ambrosia with Whipped Creme Fraiche from The Kitchn
- Grandma’s Ambrosia Salad from Brown Eyed Baker
- Ambrosia from Chemist in the Kitchen
- Betty’s Apple Ambrosia from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood via Food Network
- Ambrosia Salad from Taste of Home
- Modern Ambrosia Salad from Martha Stewart Living