PCA 2020

Making the Best of a Sub-par Watermelon

We bought a watermelon yesterday. Brought it home, cut into it and found it had already passed its prime. I hate that. It's one of those scenerios that typically involves me insisting I'll take it back, digging out the receipt and setting the offending fruit aside to support our already thriving community of fruit flies (that's what you get for trying to compost). Of course I never get around to taking it back but I do spend a couple weeks irritated over wasting $5.88.

But aha! I had read in a magazine recently about making watermelon lemonade. I didn't tear out the page - fortunately it was simple enough for me to file away in my brainpan rather than in my milk crate of torn-out magazine pages. (Easier to find this way.) So I made some, and it was like summer in a glass - drinkable watermelon and lemonade all in a pretty pink drink. And very welcome during a summer heat wave, when I’m tired of water and have already ingested gallons of iced tea.

So this is what you do to make:

Watermelon Lemonade

Cube the offending watermelon, and don't even bother to remove the white pits, just the big dark ones. Whiz the watermelon cubes in a blender with about 1/4 cup sugar per blenderful, if that.
Pour the very liquidy puree, through a sieve if you like, into a pitcher. If you pour it through a sieve, swish it around with your fingers toward the end to get as much liquid as possible. This works much better than "pressing the solids with the back of a spoon."

Now you could mix the puree with lemonade made from a frozen tin. Or (and this is just as easy) make a lemon syrup my stirring about 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2-3/4 cup lemon juice (I just use the stuff in the bottle, although you could squeeze lemons yourself if you have the gumption). Of course the quantities of each should be dictated by your taste. Pour this syrup into the pitcher with the watermelon puree, and add a cup or two of water. Taste it and add more water if it needs it.

Pour over ice and beam over your very own homemade watermelon lemonade, which contains the same cancer-fighting lycopene as tomatoes, and none of the nasty stuff that comes in packaged summer drink mixes.

I'm thinking it would be really good with a glug of gin. Or vodka. Or tequila - the watermelon puree would make great watermelon margaritas! Add lime juice instead of lemon.

You could probably even float a cube or two of watermelon and a sprig of mint amongst the ice cubes if you want to get all Martha about it.

Even an average-sized watermelon produces a lot of puree, so I had enough (before I added the lemon syrup, although you could do it after) to pour into popsicle moulds, and even more to freeze and reconstitute as Watermelon Margaritas, I think.

The moral of the story is: When life hands you crappy watermelons, make watermelon lemonade.

Julie is a best-selling cookbook author, food writer, cooking instructor and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio. She lives in Calgary with her husband and her son, Wilem. Watch for her cooking show, It’s Just Food, with co-host Ned Bell on Access TV and CLT stations across Canada. For recipes and daily ramblings visit her blog at dinnerwithjulie.com.

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