Ginger Ale Salad, 1946 – A Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on Sep 28 2016 - 4:24am by RetroRuth

This week I felt like making something sparkly and pretty, so I remade this Ginger Ale Salad recipe that I originally tested for Glory Days Magazine. Because what’s more sparkly than a gelatin?


This is Ginger Ale Salad!

Ginger Ale Salad
  • 1 envelope (.25 oz or 1 tablespoon) of unflavored gelatin (use 2 if you would like a harder-set gelatin)
  • 4 tablespoons cold water
  • ½ cup boiling fruit juice (the juice from the canned pineapple can be used)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of ginger ale or ginger beer
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1 cup seedless green or red grapes, sliced in half
  • 1 orange, peeled, sectioned and roughly chopped
  • 1 pink grapefruit, peeled sectioned and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup canned pineapple tidbits
  • ½ cup crystalized ginger, chopped finely
  1. Soak gelatin in cold water until it blooms. Add sugar to the boiling fruit juice and stir until mostly dissolved, then add the bloomed gelatin to this mixture, and stir again until it is dissolved. Add the salt, ginger ale and lemon juice. Stir lightly to avoid losing the carbonation in the ginger ale. Chill until partially set.
  2. Add grapes, orange, grapefruit, pineapple and candied ginger. Stir and pour into a 5 cup gelatin mold. Refrigerate until firm.

Joy of Cooking002


This is a classic salad that introduced the idea of adding carbonated beverages to gelatin salads, which is quite possibly one of the greatest ideas for a sweet gelatin salad since the idea of adding fruit. Though in the books that I’ve read Fannie Farmer is credited with this original idea, this particular recipe is from the 1946 edition of the Joy of Cooking, which referred to this salad as, “about the best molded fruit salad.”

Joy of Cooking001

I love the cover of this edition!

The original recipe called for “Canton ginger”, which was high-quality crystalized or candied ginger, and recommended that this salad be served on lettuce with a cream mayonnaise garnish. We skipped the mayo, but hey, if you like mayo with your fruit I’m the last person to judge. In this book’s defense, it mostly likely refers to a homemade mayo, which was probably very good.



“It’s so sparkly. It’s fizzing while I’m eating it.”

“I know. I was in the mood for some sparkle.”

The Verdict: Delicious

From The Tasting Notes –

This is a really fun gelatin. I love the fizzy sparkle of ginger ale and the spiciness of the candied ginger. The mix of canned and fresh fruit is also a nice touch. This thing was packed with fruit, so if you like a little more wiggle in your gelatin, feel free to reduce the fruit. Otherwise really good. Nothing really to complain about here!

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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5 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Saralynn Lessord September 28, 2016 at 11:40 am - Reply

    I may have to actually try to make it for the next potluck I get invited to.

  2. Camille September 28, 2016 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Ginger Ale Salad is part of every Thanksgiving dinner in my family, and has been since the 1960s. Ours is a little different (no grapes, oranges, or fresh ginger; ours contains pecans and chopped celery in addition to the pineapple and grapefruit, and our Jello is lemon). I skip the mayo too.

  3. Amanda March 15, 2017 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    I actually have this very same edition cookbook. I might have to try this. Sounds like it would be strangely settling to my morning sickness and fruit cravings.

  4. Seanette May 7, 2017 at 1:40 am - Reply

    My husband would love this, but I would need to adjust two items: he doesn’t like oranges and I don’t like grapefruit. Any suggestions for substitutions?

    One thing I like is that this could easily be made more diabetic-friendly (DH is diabetic) by subbing Splenda for the sugar. Yeah, anachronistic, but to me, for this, that’s OK. 🙂

  5. SUSAN November 28, 2017 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    My mom used to make this for Thanksgiving dinner.
    It’s yummy.
    I hope you will try it the next time you want to take something out of the ordinary to a potluck. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
    It used to be seriously fiddly to make, but now that we can buy peeled grapefruit segments in the produce department, the messiest part of the process can be bypassed.
    You have to peel and halve the grapes. Yes, you do.
    Sit down, relax, put on a a podcast or some nice music. There is no way to hurry this.
    For the grapes: You can find for grape peeling instructions on youtube. I’ve always used the paring knife method, but I might try the melon baller next time.You’ll need to cut the grapes in half afterwards if you use the paring knife method.
    For the grapefruit: First cut the rind off the grapefruit, cutting deeply enough to get the membrane too. Now cut the segments off the membranes by cutting down one side and up the other. (In other words, cut the segment off the membrane, not the membrane off the segment.) The cut the segments in half. That should be small enough.
    For the mayo: I strongly recommend making your own. Making mayo is much easier than people make it out to be. You can whip it up in minutes with a little bit of practice.
    Bon Appetit!

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