Fizzy Lifting Drink

Among my mother’s many kitchen talents, right up there with her potato salad, is her knack for choosing a good melon. I have not inherited this skill, which means things are often hit or miss in the melon department. If it’s a hit, or good piece of fruit in general, I’ll call Sylvie, and vice versa. Our phones pretty much ring non-stop during stone fruit season, and yes, we have had actual conversations about: 1. Mom’s potato salad, and 2. The way she just knows when it’s a good melon.

Cantaloupe agua fresca

Last week I bought a cantaloupe. It, like the one from the week before, was pretty meh. I nibble on bits of melon while I clean it, chop it, and stash it in cleaned out yogurt containers. (Fact: Half a cantaloupe always seems to fits in a large-sized yogurt container.) This week’s melon was sweet in parts but completely dull in other bites. A decent enough snack, but certainly not call-Sylvie amazing.

Not wanting to eat the cantaloupe on its own but not wanting to toss it either, I started searching my cookbooks for a recipe. For the past few days Boston’s been in a bit of a heat wave, and heat waves just call for a refreshing beverage, at least in our house. So I opened the artisanal soda cookbook I received last year and found this recipe for fizzy cantaloupe agua fresca, which was easy, delicious and extremely refreshing.

So delicious!

Lilli was very helpful in looking for a recipe to use up the cantaloupe.

Some background on the whole “artisanal soda” thing. This year, I some used my birthday money to renew my membership to the Museum of Fine Arts and to purchase a Soda Stream. (As Rich quipped, “Who said nothing good has come out of the settlements?”) Syl has had a Soda Stream for a few years now, so when I was sent the artisanal soda cookbook last year, I passed it to her. When I joined club Soda Stream last month, she kindly sent the book back to me.

So far I have tried a couple of the recipes, with mixed results. The brown sugar banana soda needed more oomph, and although I liked the taste of the lemon thyme syrup itself, I thought it lost its zest and tasted a little musty once the carbonated water was added to it. Fortunately, this particular recipe was easy, delicious, refreshing, and make excellent use of my not-so-excellent melon.

The recipe calls for agave nectar, but feel free to substitute – a simple syrup or even a ginger syrup would also be great. Also, you don’t need a Soda Stream to use this recipe. You can use store-bought seltzer, or even still water for a more traditional agua fresca. Or you can do what Rich did with the leftover syrup when he came back from his run tonight: make a slushy with some ice and orange juice in the blender.

Fizzy Cantaloupe Agua Fresca from The Artisan Soda Workshop by Andrea Lynn

Ingredients for Cantaloupe Juice

2 ½ cups cubed cantaloupe

1 Tablespoon agave syrup

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice (The recipe book says lemon juice up top but lime in the directions. I went with lime and was pleased with the results.)

Directions

In a food processor or blender, combine the cantaloupe, agave (sweetener), and lime juice. Blend until all the cantaloupe is puréed, 1 to 2 minutes. Then, fit a bowl with a fine-mesh sieve, and pour the juice through the strainer to catch the pulp. Make sure to press the puréed fruit against the strainer to extract as much liquid as possible, and discard the pulp. (Note: If by discard you mean eat; it was light and refreshing.) Refrigerate the cantaloupe juice in a covered container (used mustard or jelly jar) for up to 3 days.

To make Fizzy Cantaloupe Aqua Fresca: Add 3 to 4 Tablespoons of cantaloupe liquid to a glass, then add 8 ounces of cold seltzer. Stir and enjoy.

The Orange Kind

kosher vegetarian

All summer long, I’ve picked up my CSA box at the student union here on campus, emptied the box’s contents into a large canvas bag, handed the box back to the farmer, and carried my bagful of produce back to my office. I store the bag in the big fridge in the office kitchen – after removing August’s tomatoes and peaches, natch – and at the end of the day, I pack everything into my bike basket and head home. However, the past three weeks have shown the flaw in my system, and it has come in the form of melon.

Heavy melons, I have discovered, not only make my bike ride home a bit more challenging — a good thing for my daily exercise — but they have been bruising my soft summer fruits. These are not end-of-the-world tragedies. I’ve definitely still been able to enjoy my bruised peaches. I spooned a compote of rescued peach flesh, lime juice, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla and a cardamom pod on top of Greek yogurt for a delightful dessert on Sunday night, for instance. But it’s frustrating, nonetheless.

Still though, just a glance towards these melons makes me grimace, as I am reminded of the poor fate of my now- injured bounty. To atone for the destruction they have wrought, I feel I need to do more than just cut them up for a simple breakfast or mundane dessert.

I just love the word ramekin

Well, I’ve come up with a solution: melon sorbet. Without realizing it, I ended up reaching for the same flavors used in this beginning-of-summer sorbet. I swear I didn’t mean to plagiarize; ginger and citrus are just really versatile.

Melon Sorbet

In terms of prepping melon, I’ve discovered the most user-friendly way is to halve it and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place a half cut side down on a cutting board, and, using a sharp serrated knife, cut the rough skin off, starting from the top and following the rounded contours of the fruit. I did cut up the whole melon for this dish, although I didn’t end up using all of it. You’ll use about 4 cups.

kosher vegetarian

Not pictured: A serrated knife

Ingredients

4 cups of melon, prepped and cut into chunks that will fit nicely into a blender

1 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon sliced ginger

Peel of 1 lime, plus juice of 1/2 lime

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, ginger and lime peel. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Once it has cooled some, place the saucepan and its contents in the refrigerator until completely chilled.
  2. Puree the melon in a blender. Place in refrigerator until completely chilled.
  3. When the puree and syrup have chilled, place the puree into your ice cream maker, strain the syrup into it and add the juice of half the lime.
  4. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.