Ever cut a watermelon, with no room in the fridge, and can’t get people to eat it? Here’s a solution I just made up, and with which I’m quite happy. 🙂
I’ve been making all these infused vinegars, and had half a left over watermelon. Of course, I started thinking, watermelon infused vinegar! But watermelon has so much water in it compared to other fruits, I thought it might need special handling. Surely someone else has done this before, right? So I started searching. And I wasn’t finding anything, other than watermelon rind pickles, which are one of my other specialties, but not quite the same thing. Hmmm. If other folk are not doing this, there is probably a good reason why it isn’t working.
I started to think about it hard, came up with some ideas, and let the ideas marinate overnight. I wasn’t sure the watermelon could stand up well to the vinegar. I tried mixing a tiny bit together straight, and it was less than a joy to consume. Needed sweetener. I thought about making a shrub, but usually when I make shrubs, I add the sugar after the fruit steeps in the vinegar, and bring it to a boil. We boil watermelon when we make the pickles. Boiled watermelon neither smells nice nor tastes nice, so I wasn’t thrilled with that idea.
Then I thought, hmmm, if I boil the sugar before mixing it with the watermelon, that might work. So I made a simple syrup (1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water. Boil. Cool.). Off to experiment!
I never expected this to come out so well on the first try (especially since I’d just tried making a watermelon smoothie that was a real flop), but I am delighted with the watermelon shrub. Tasty, lovely … I enjoyed it so much, I even took a spoon to taste some of the frothy solids I strained out. Yum. I wanted to start very plain and simple, but I have ideas of variations that sound appealing to my tastebuds. Cucumber. Mint. A curl of lemon or orange rind. Basil. Clean bright tastes. Perhaps make the simple syrup with a little spice in it?
3 cups puréed watermelon
1 cup simple sugar (instructions above)
1 cup white vinegar (alternatives: Japanese rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or similar clear light-coloured neutral-flavoured vinegar)
Make the simple syrup well beforehand, so it has a chance to cool to room temperature. Purée the watermelon in the blender or food processor. Add the other two ingredients, and blend again, briefly. Remove from blender, and strain through cheesecloth, as shown (although preferably into a nonreactive bowl instead of a metal bowl).
I served mixed half and half with water, but I like things tart. It would be lovely over shaved ice, or perhaps mixed with a bit of chilled white wine. I can also easily imagine this as a thirst quencher after a workout or run, mixed with a bit more water so you can guzzle it right down.
YIELD: After straining, the five cups of liquid shrink to one nice quart.
Doesn’t it just have the loveliest color?
Of course, AFTER I did all this, I realized that I hadn’t looked to see if anyone else had thought of making a watermelon shrub. Well, duh. Yes, they have. So here are a few other recipes for the same idea. The Garden Design recipe is most similar; Living the Frugal Life is a classic traditional shrub; and the Bring Me a Shrub recipe is most adventuresome, adding pepper and other spices. But mine is faster and easier. You can literally drink this within minutes of thinking of it.
Garden Design: Summer Cocktail: Watermelon Shrub: http://www.gardendesign.com/summer-cocktail-watermelon-shrub
Living the Frugal Life: Shrub: http://livingthefrugallife.blogspot.com/2008/06/shrub.html
Bring Me a Shrub: Shrub #9: “Kim”: http://bringmeashrub.blogspot.com/2011/09/shrub-9-kim.html