Melon lemonade, an inspired idea. Photo
courtesy Zulka Sugar.
According to chef and food historian Clifford A. Wright, the all-American summer drink, lemonade, may have had its origin in medieval Egypt. It’s hard to tell, because while the fruit originated farther to the east, the earliest written evidence of lemonade comes from Egypt.
The wild lemon originated in Assam, India and northern Burma. It was cultivated, and travelers brought it to China, across Persia and the Arab world to the Mediterranean.
The wild fruit was very acidic and filled with seeds. Given the scarcity of sweeteners, it was initially used as an ornamental tree in early Islamic gardens, producing fragrant blossoms.
The trade in lemon juice and lemonade was quite considerable by 1104, says Wright. Documents from the Cairo Geniza, the medieval Jewish community in Cairo from the tenth through thirteenth centuries, show that bottles of lemon juice were mixed with lots of sugar, consumed locally and exported.
So you can celebrate today, National Lemonade Day, with our classic lemonade recipe, make the Sparkling Melon Lemonade recipe below, or spike it with a clear spirit, particularly gin, tequila or vodka.
The recipe is courtesy of Zulka Morena, manufacturers of premium quality sugars. You can find more sweet recipes on the website.
RECIPE: SPARKLING MELON LEMONADE
Ingredients For 3 Quarts
8-10 cups chopped melon (you use any—watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.—but a half watermelon is ideal)
1-1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Sparkling water or club soda
Optional garnish: melon balls and fresh mint
1. MAKE a simple syrup: Combine water and sugar in a small sauce pan and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Chill completely before using.
2. PURÉE the melon in batches with some of the lemon juice and simple syrup, using a blender or food processor. Use even amounts of each ingredient each time. Combine all batches once blended in a large 3 quart pitcher, and chill at least 4 hours.
3. TO SERVE: Fill large glasses with ice and then halfway with the melon mixture. Top with sparkling water and stir.