Since real summer starts tomorrow, let me just give a quick shout out to this fake summer we’ve been having in Oregon. I’m still a little confused by what month it actually is, and why there has been this golden sphere hanging in the sky over the past few weeks producing 80-degree, but I will take it! We’ve had a few “typical” June-ish days this month and on one of them my mom was like “OH MY GOD IT FEELS LIKE WINTER!!!!” I stopped and said “no, actually, it feels like June.” Maybe just because the last few springs have felt a little extra long, or because as Oregonians we really are not used to any sort of consistent sunshine until after July…but either way, I’m not complaining! My tomato plants are happy, I have something resembling a tan, and I have been pretty much eating my body weight in watermelon. Tonight’s pre-dinner consisted of me leaning over the kitchen sink as I took a huge bite of melon and slurped the juice to keep it from running down my face and arms. It was pretty glorious. Thank you fake summer… you are kind of ok.
Back in October when I was researching which juicer I should buy, I was focused mainly on leafy greens. I had visions of juicing kale and spinach, and chard, and beets, and pretty much everything earthy (which I did.) but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I started to think about the summer juicing potential. Really, I wasn’t being narrow minded when I purchased my juicer, more ,I was living in the moment and trying to embrace the whole seasonal eating thing. =) (at least that is what I’m telling myself.) So last week when it finally dawned on me that watermelon + juicer= happiness and summer bliss, I was pretty stoked. And really, why had I not thought of it before? I know one of the dangers with at home juicing is sugar… you juice all the sugary fruits in all the land and then chug them, (because they are delicious) So I do appreciate that fruit juice should be consumed in moderation… but just stop for a minute and think about all the cocktail potential.
Even if cocktails aren’t your thing, Agua Fresca has already established itself as a seasonal staple on my back patio. Sort of…. Upon looking up Agua Fresca recipes I’ve found essentially ALL of them include super sweet fruits, sugar, and water… This is where I’m going to rant about sugar a little bit. No, I’m not one of those crazy no sugar in anything ever, people. In fact, I had a raspberry brownie for lunch today, I put sugar in my coffee every morning, and I think that there is a time and a place for sugar (like gumdrops, hello.) That being said, just about every time I try to bake something sweet I have to run to the store, because for some reason I never seem to have sugar in my pantry… I just don’t use it that often (Sugar scrub, mojitos, lemon curd… these are the only thing that I make on a semi-regular basis that actually require sugar.) I do try to read labels and make a conscious effort to try and cut back on sugar in processed foods… it just seems unnecessary a lot of the time, but I try not to get all nutty about it…BUT it absolutely boggles my mind as to why you need to add additional sugar to a refreshing summer fruit drink! When was the last time you sprinkled sugar over a slice of watermelon? The answer is never. (salt on the other hand… is there anything better at a picnic than I giant wedge of watermelon lightly sprinkled with Jacobsen Sea Salt? No, there isn’t. Seriously, try it with the pinot blanc salt… game changer!) Don’t even get me started with honeydew melon… I mean for reals… you add sugar to that? It makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.
SO I guess technically what I’ve been drinking on the patio is not Agua Fresca… it’s better. (I’m not about to call this here concoction sugar free agua fresca… doesn’t that just sound like an aspartame filled powdery diet drink mix or something? … Ok I’ll hop off the snarky train now… BUT really, if you even think about putting more sugar with your honeydew melon, just know that I am judging you.)
Lately I’ve been making a strawberry/watermelon “spritzer” sometimes there is vodka in it… sometimes not. (for example, when I take it to work… NO vodka. ) It’s not very often that Oregon strawberry season overlaps with watermelon season, and it’s a shame because this combo is fantastic. Throw some mint, lime, strawberries and 1/4 of a watermelon in your juicer or blender and out comes this sweet nectar of the gods. You can drink it straight, add some sparkling water, or one of my favorite things to do is mix it with a Cucumber Dry Soda (scrumptious.)
Other ideas/ variations
- Substitute Basil, cilantro, or lavender for the mint
- Try with a cucumber (or some other delicious thing) instead of strawberries
- Make into popsicles
- freeze in ice cube trays to add to sparkling water
- Add it to lemonade
- Mix with any variety of booze to come up with a delicious cocktail.
- blend it with coconut water