Watermelon Sugar

It is odd what memories certain foods evoke. For me, watermelon does not automatically remind me of 4th of July family picnics or the ubiquitous platters watermelon (karpousi) served in Greek tavernas at the conclusion of a summer meal. Both of these memories would be quite normal. And, I do remember as a child eating a lot of watermelon on the 4th of July accompanied by intense pip spitting contests. Of course, in my own mind, I always won those contests. Similarly, I vividly recall consuming quantities of the sweet juicy red fruit in numerous Greek tavernas as an adult (although being more descrete about those pips).

platter_watermelon

Yet, the very first thing that pops into my mind is Richard Brautigan’s 1968 book, In Watermelon Sugar. Odd, but true. In Watermelon Sugar is a novel with (psychedelic) visions of an utopian society, (naturally) living close to nature in a post-apocalyptic world. Oh yes, many things in the book are made from watermelon sugar, extracted from different coloured watermelons that match the changing rainbow hues of each day’s sun. I did say psychedelic. It made a big impression on me in my youth, but if I were to pick it up now for a read, I am sure I would find it rather silly and dated – very hippy 1960s. Nonetheless, the sight of a watermelon still instantly recalls this book.

street_seller_watermelon1watermelon_laiki

Watermelons are piled high in the summer markets and roadside stalls. There are at last two types to choose from – small round ones, slightly smaller than a basketball, and large oval ones that require a wheelbarrow to cart them home. The latter are often cut and sold in segments. Just F.Y.I., watermelon is made up of about 90% water and about 6% sugar.

watermelon_tonic

Watermelon Limeade (G & T)
With Brautigan’s utopia in mind, I’ve created my own Watermelon Sugar concoction – with or without gin. The sweetness of the watermelon is perfectly offset by the tart lime and the bitter tonic. 

  • 1/2 of a small watermelon (4 cups chopped flesh) – yielding about 500ml juice
  • 6-8 limes – yielding about 200ml of juice
  • 500ml water
  • 100g sugar (about 1/2 cup)
  • Tonic water
  • Gin, optional

First make a light syrup from the water and sugar by boiling until the sugar dissolves and it becomes slightly thickened (a few minutes). Set this aside to cool, then add the lime juice. Cut the watermelon and remove as many of the seeds as possible. Purée the red flesh in a food processor and press it through a strainer, reserving the liquid and discarding any of the solids. Blend both the lime mixture and the watermelon liquid. Decant into a bottle and store in the refrigerator.

Shake the bottle before serving as the ingredients will separate. Serve chilled over ice – half watermelon limeade, half tonic. A jigger of gin wouldn’t go amiss if you want to create an interesting cocktail – a Watermelon G & T.

NOTE: The watermelon limeade does not keep long; use within a day or two. Watermelon juice tends to lose its freshness quickly. The quantity made above is a little over a litre and is enough (with the tonic) to make approximately 10-20 drinks, depending on the size of your glass and how much ice you use. The recipe can be halved if you feel you will not use the quantities listed above in time. 

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11 comments

  1. Rainbow hued watermelon in an Utopian society! I would have loved that book. Not sure the librarians in my town would have stocked it. Will mix up a Watermelon Limeade over the weekend. Thank-you.!

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    • Although Brautigan had quite a cult following, I’m not sure my town library had a copy either! My copy of the book was passed to me by a friend – quite dog eared by that point. Hope you like the concoction. As you know, we have quite a few watermelons to chose from in the market – or the road side. Nothing says summer better that a ripe red juicy watermelon.

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  2. Gin for me please… I still vividly remember my first taste of watermelon and the argument between my parent about the ill afforded cost of a whole melon. There is Nothing better on a hot day.

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  3. How good is this post. First, the reference to Richard Brautigan,( Trout Fishing in America) and the psychedelic days of misspent youth. I am so pleased I now prefer wine, then gin with anything, more than marijuana and also pleased to find that my memory still vaguely functions. Now I know what to choose when going through the duty free shops on the way home. Another bottle of beautiful Bombay Gin to make this heavenly summer concoction.

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    • Wine for me, too. But I do like a good G&T on occasion. This version is good and we’ve even tried gin with lemon barley water! Have good memories of Trout Fishing in America. Yes, memories are still functioning – at least for the nonce. Never got around to reading his ‘Confederate General from Big Sur’, but it always made me curious about the place. Perhaps one day I will get there.

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  4. I’ve just “discovered” watermelon & feta salads, Debi, and now you toss watermelon limeade my way. This sounds so very refreshing, even it does contain gin. I’m not at all a fan but wouldn’t mind a splash — or two — of vodka. Thanks for the “use by” warning, too. I’ll definitely cut the recipe by half — or head to the liquor store for more vodka. I guess that will depend upon the kind of week I’m having. 🙂

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    • I’ve yet to try one of those watermelon & feta salads, but it is on the list. This watermelon limeade is good, better with tonic and would be just as good with vodka as with gin. Hope your week goes well and you manage to stretch that vodka out. 😄

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