I was reminded today that this coming weekend it is just eight weeks until we go on holiday. We are off to France again, but will also spend time in Spain, hence this month’s Spanish style theme. Apart from a few days in Barcelona as a special birthday gift some years ago, I have only made day trips across the border into Spain from France. One vivid memory I have from my first day trip into Spain on a family holiday in the 1970’s were the huge piles of melons by the roadside. In particular I remember the golden Rugby ball shaped Honeydews and enormous green and cream striped Watermelons. I also remember that we ate melon every day for most of the rest of the holiday! When watermelons start to appear on our local market it really feels as if summer has arrived, so as a foretaste of our travels it seemed appropriate to start with this simply made drink.
One of my favourite ways of enjoying watermelon is as a drink, usually the thick mostly seed free but unstrained version for breakfast or as an everyday liquid dessert. Strained it can be served as an alcohol free drink on a hot afternoon in the garden or at a dinner party. I cannot remember where I got the idea of adding the mint, with which I am usually generous, but it makes a really refreshing addition. The finished drink is an attractive rosy pink colour, flecked with green. I was not surprised to find other recipes for melon based drinks including one in the July/August 2010 edition the free Tesco instore magazine. The recipe below is my own method but I have added the helpful information from the Tesco magazine as well. A melon will last for several days in the fridge once it is cut: I usually juice either a half or a whole melon at one go, depending on size and number of drinkers. In a lidded jug container it will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days although the flavour does begin to deteriorate after the first day. I have seen suggestions for drinks using other types of melon too: honeydew, Charentais or Cantaloupe with either strawberries or with ginger ale also sound delicious. (A slice of melon topped with chopped preserved ginger and a little ginger syrup is an easy and popular dessert in our house.) See recipe for further serving information.
(This recipe is a rough guide as it depends on melon size but a large melon will provide drinks for 6-8 people, maybe more especially if diluted)
1 large watermelon
4 stems mint, more for a stronger taste – some recipes say 8 leaves, which is hardly enough
Small sprigs of mint to garnish
Ginger ale, Lemonade, Sparkling water or Sparkling wine (optional)
1. Wash the surface of the melon well, place on a large plate which will collect the juices as it is cut. Depending on the quantity of juice needed cut the melon in half. (If only using half a melon the remainder should be stored cut edge downwards on a plate in the fridge, but the remainder should be used up in around 3 days.)
2. As they collect, pour the juices from the plate into the liquidiser. Using a spoon scoop out spoonfuls of melon (alternatively cut the half into wedges and remove chunks with a knife). Place separately in a bowl, discarding the large black seeds. There may be small whitish seeds as well but as they are softer they usually disappear when liquidised. These can be discarded as well if wished.
3. Thoroughly liquidise the melon in several batches, including a little mint with each. Pour the thick liquid into a large jug or fridge storage container.
4. Taste the melonade and adjust the mint flavour by returning a cupful of liquid to the liquidiser with extra mint. Thoroughly mix into the whole batch of melonade to make sure the mint is evenly distributed. The melon is usually sweet so no additional sweetener should be necessary.
5. For a lighter thinner drink the liquidised melonade should be poured through a sieve. (It may be possible to use the remaining pulp to make minted melon sorbet, but I have not tried it – I will update this post if I do!)
6. Serve chilled in tall glasses or poured over ice. Garnish with a small sprig of mint.
7. Alternatively serve Minted Melonade as a mixer. I researched a little further and I discovered several recipes where melon juice (with or without the mint) is served with gin. Tesco has a recipe for Watermelon Cooler, a version of the drink served with ginger ale, a squeeze of lemon or lime and an optional measure of gin. The July/August 2010 issue of the free instore Tesco magazine has a recipe for Melonade with mint where the basic juice is topped up with the sparkling Italian white wine Prosecco, one of my favourite sparkling tipples with a squeeze of lime juice to give ‘extra tang’.
8. The juice can also be simply diluted with ginger ale, lemonade, or sparkling water but take care not to dilute too much as the delicate flavour could quickly be lost.
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