This week, I’ve been whirring and stirring watermelon. The mad scientist in me found the whole adventure rather wonderful. My husband was initially a bit dubious as I offered him tastes of various drinks. But being a good sport, he joined in the fun as I combined watermelon with other fruits and vegetables.
Even though it is mostly water (over 90%), watermelon has a distinctive taste. After blending it into juice, I experimented by mixing watermelon with different juices and juice drinks such as lemonade, adding it to cocktails, and using it as an ingredient in soup. I found one magnificent combination, a couple that were unremarkable, and a few that were intriguing. I’ll never be a bartender and I’m hardly a mixologist, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I have only begun to explore this territory.
Large watermelons are available in my area (the Mid-Atlantic U.S). in October and the smaller ones will be around through the colder months. In any event, normal portions of beverages or soups don’t require even more than a few cups of watermelon chunks, a container of cut-up watermelon (from the refrigerated section of the produce department) should be sufficient.
The easiest way to liquefy watermelon is in an immersion blender. It’s quick and not messy at all if you use the tall cup that comes with the blender. A regular blender also works, as does a food processor.
Mixing Watermelon and Other Juices
Orange - My favorite was watermelon and orange juice in a 1 to 1 ratio. I like how the sweetness of the watermelon cuts the citrus tang and the drink has a lovely pink-orange tint. With a dash of seltzer or sparkling water, it has a nice zip. As my husband and I nodded in agreement over this one, we both had the same thought – adding champagne for a pink mimosa. Maybe we haven’t invented it, but it’s a new one to me.
Apricot - We had a split decision on the combination of watermelon and apricot juices. I thought it was not as good as the watermelon/orange juice - too sweet and not tart enough, but my husband liked it.
Lemonade - I used simple syrup (hot water and sugar mixed until the sugar melts), lemons, and extra cold water to make my own lemonade and mixed it with watermelon juice. I thought it would remind me of the sweet/tart combination of watermelon and orange juice, but I found this mixture had zip, but not enough taste. Speaking of watermelons and simple syrup, I love this watermelon and basil-infused simple syrup mocktail created by Beth Vlasich Pav, a wonderful friend and fellow 2012 EatWriteRetreat participant. I made it for my own mom at our mother’s day brunch last spring and we all enjoyed it.
Pineapple - Watermelon and pineapple juice was a bit like the watermelon/apricot combination, but formed a great base for an exploration into cocktails. Although I’m not a big hard liquor fan, I have white rum. I mixed 2 ounces each of watermelon juice, pineapple juice, and lemonade, plus 1 ounce of white rum and 1 teaspoon of candied ginger, and buzzed it in the immersion blender. I’ll admit it’s tart – and that I used to suck lemon slices and loved those crazy exploding sweet tarts when I was a kid – but I liked it. When my husband took a sip of my new drink, he puckered up his lips and pronounced it waayy too tart for his taste. Oh well. “To each his or her own” as my mother would say.
The most interesting possibilities I’d still like to explore involve candied ginger, ginger simple syrup and other variations of simple syrup. I had never made simple syrup before I learned David Lebovitz’s method for making candied ginger. Now that I’ve used it for that recipe, the basil-infused simple syrup for the Mother’s Day mocktail, and for limoncello, I’ve realized how incredibly versatile it is as a base, especially for drinks.
Watermelon in Savory Soup
Just like the watermelon belongs in salad and salsa, it is perfectly at home in gazpacho substituted for some of the tomatoes that are the typical base for that cold soup. This version has plenty of punch with the vinegar and hot sauce providing tart and spicy elements, and the same texture as more traditional gazpacho, with less of a concentrated tomato flavor. I like it as a small appetizer or an hors d’ouevre passed around at cocktail parties, served in tiny bowls with handles that I got at a kitchen supply store.
Easy Watermelon Gazpacho
1 cup, Serves 4-6 as a small appetizer
- ¼ cup of peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
- ¼ cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ¼ cup of chopped red bell pepper (not hot pepper)
- ½ cup chunks of watermelon
- 1 tablespoon chopped red onion
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon sherry vinegar
- Hot sauce (Tabasco or similar)
- Chives for garnish (optional)
- Cut the piece of peeled cucumber in half and take out the middle section (seeds) by scraping it out with a spoon or making two diagonal cuts with a knife, then chop it into small pieces.
- Chop the red bell pepper, red onion, and watermelon into pieces.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half
- Blend all of those ingredients until no distinct pieces remain.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, sherry vinegar, and a dash or two of hot sauce.
- Mix and refrigerate for at least an hour to give flavors time to meld.
Just Plain Watermelon
Not satisfied with mixing it up every which way, I took my watermelon experiments in one final direction– to ice cubes. This experiment is a logical extension of my ice cubes made with tea, coffee, and even lemonade. Watermelon ice cubes don’t get as hard as those made with just water or with a liquid that doesn’t have pulp, but they hold up nicely, have a great color and chill drinks without diluting them.
It’s almost time to relax with a mocktail or maybe a cocktail and a good book or a favorite old movie. So go for a few chunks of watermelon and a few other ingredients to find your own perfect combination. Have a great weekend!
Disclosure – This post is part of a series sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board. All opinions expressed and editorial decisions are completely my own.