Hi Everyone, Here in the Caribbean we live in a tropical environment that enjoys summer weather all year round but in July and August, it gets even hotter. The fans circulate hot air, the trees are still and the nights bring only a slight respite from the heat. One of the important things to do is to keep hydrated. While water is the ideal option, we can take advantage of the wide variety of fruits in season by pureeing them and chilling in the refrigerator so that we can refresh ourselves throughout the day.
The outside of the glass was covered with beads of water, an indication of how cold the beverage was. Upon enquiry I learnt that it was a blended mixture of cucumber and mint. While I do enjoy cucumbers and mint, separately, I had never had them together in a beverage form so it was a must-try.
This week I’m sharing with you 3 coolers that you can make. The idea here is to blend/puree the ingredients; pass the mixture through a sieve to remove some of the fibre (if you like), chill until ice cold and then drink. Let the natural flavours and sweetness of whatever you are pureeing come through. You can add sugar if you like but try it without or use less than what you would normally use to sweeten drinks. Because these coolers are meant to function as refreshers, something that you can consume a few times a day, you don’t want the added sugar.
A few pointers:
● I strongly recommend that you let the cooler set for at least 24 hours so that the flavour(s) can develop, mature. You will be amazed at the difference in flavour if you drink the cooler right away or after a resting period of 24 hours.
● Always have it ice cold but not frozen. If you are the type of person that likes ice in their drinks then I would suggest that you pour some of the cooler into an ice tray to freeze and become ice cubes that you can then drop right into your cooler. This way, you do not dilute the flavour with ice or make it watery.
● Mix and match flavours. Use some fruits by themselves or in combinations. For example, mangoes and passion fruit go well together.
● Do not be afraid to pair some fruits with herbs. Fresh thyme, rosemary, mint and basil make exceptional partners with various fruits; for example, thyme with lime or lemon, mint with pineapple and basil with watermelon.
● When you first taste the coolers your taste buds will instinctively crave the addition of added sweetness. Resist it. Continue drinking and you will find that your palette adjusts and you will begin to taste the inherent sweetness of the ingredients and the many notes of flavour.
● Some fruits when pureed can become rather thick, feel free to add water to thin it out but do not make add so much water that the cooler becomes overly watery. If it does, the cooler will lose its taste and you’ll end up drinking coloured water.
● When you are ready to serve the coolers, give them a stir, as they would have settled while cooling.
There is no recipe with exacting measurements. Let your gut and instincts guide you and if you like, you can email, Facebook or Tweet me to bounce off ideas or ask a question.
The tool of choice for these coolers is a powerful jug blender; not a food processor with a bowl.
Editor’s Cucumber & Mint Cooler
● Cucumbers, whole, scrubbed and chopped into chunks (skin and seeds included)
● Fresh mint leaves
Add cucumbers and mint leaves to blender and puree.
Strain through a sieve and chill until very cold
● Add ½ cup water to each cup of cucumber if you like.
● Average 2 – 3 large mint leaves for each cup of chopped cucumbers. Add more if you like mint and less if you want to reduce the intensity of the flavour.
● Ripe watermelon, seeds removed and pulp chopped into chunks
1. Add to blender and puree until smooth.
S2. train through a sieve and refrigerate until very cold.
● Ripe mangoes, peeled and flesh removed
● Fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1. Add mango flesh, ginger and water to blender and puree until smooth.
2. Strain through a sieve and refrigerate until very cold.
● Add 1 cup of water to each packed cup of chopped mangoes, as the pulp gets thick when pureed.
● Add 1 teaspoon grated ginger for each cup of chopped mangoes.