4 Great Seasonal Drink Recipes
Spring in the Pacific Northwest is a nebulous concept. One thing for sure, though, is that as soon as the sun shows itself, we tend to flock outside blinking and squinting into the unaccustomed light and jump into activity. Our gardening prospects are fairly limited, but by the end of April, the herb garden is beginning to show signs of renewed vigor and veggies are sprouting in the raised beds. At this point, there isn’t a whole lot coming straight from the garden, but I have a plethora of mint, lemon balm and oregano. Strawberry season is just beginning, rhubarb is still around, and pineapple (in season elsewhere, sigh) are super cheap in store. The following drink recipes use a mixture of ingredients you can grow locally or find in abundance this time of year at local markets.
Seasonal Fruit Drinks
I love rhubarb in just about anything. This drink was a hit at my book group, and it can be mixed individually for different tastes. I am not a fan of sugar in my drinks, and liked just a tablespoon with lots of the sparkling water. Others liked it more sweet. Either way, people who like these two maligned fruit are sure to enjoy this combination.
- 2-3 stalks rhubarb--cut into 1/2" chunks
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 11/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups grapefruit juice (4-5 medium fresh squeezed or purchased)
- 1 grapefruit sliced very thin
- Mineral water or club soda, chilled
- Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for 20-30 minutes or until I the rhubarb is very soft and the liquid is all pink.
- Let cool and then strain through a fine metal strainer, pushing out as much juice from the fruit as you can.
- Store in a clean glass jar in the fridge until ready to use.
- To make a pitcher to serve, pour the simple syrup and grapefruit together and stir.
- Place a few slices of grapefruit against the side of the pitcher and add ice.
- Slowly pour in the mineral water.
- You can leave the layers showing as you bring the pitcher out and stir gently before pouring.
- For individual servings, put out a smaller pitcher of the syrup and juice mixed together with a bottle of chilled mineral water for people to blend their own.
The picture shows a rhubarb stalk cut at the ends and chilled in ice water to make it curl a bit. The stalk makes a good stir-stick when it's time to serve the drink.
Everyone has heard we’re supposed to drink so much water to stay healthy and hydrated. Water from the tap gets pretty boring. Restaurants have been adding fruits and vegetables to water for years—the ubiquitous lemon has been supplanted by strawberries, cucumbers and herbs. I always wondered how long it is safe to let thing soak in water. It turns out a few hours is all it takes to make flavored waters, and they should be consumed pretty quickly. Here are a couple of super simple ways to spruce up your pitcher at home.
Take a combination of your favorite herbs from the garden. Wash them gently and put them in a pitcher, cover with water an put in the fridge. Allow to infuse for at least five hours, pour into a glass and enjoy. The above shows lemon balm and mint. The result is refreshing and subtle—a welcome pick-me-up after a couple of hours in the sun weeding the garden. This keeps in the fridge for up to twenty four hours.
Strawberries are going to hit us big time pretty soon. This simple treatment gives another calorie free water that packs a visual punch. It’s no wonder strawberry water has been showing up in restaurants all over the place lately.
Put ice in a pitcher. Add 10-12 hulled and sliced strawberries with a handful of mint stems. Cover with cold water. Infuse in fridge for a minimum of one hour and up to 12 hours.
Something a bit more tropical?
With pineapples being two for seven bucks, it is hard to pass them up this time of year. I love a good piña colada like anyone, but they aren’t exactly low fat or super healthy. The last time I ordered one, I watched as the bar tender poured in a sinful amount of heavy coconut cream. This version is very subtle in flavor and big in refreshing power.
- 2 Cups cut up pineapple, chilled
- 30 oz. Coconut water
- Ice—3 large handfuls or more
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla (or plain) Agave Syrup--Optional
- Put all ingredients in the blender and blend and serve right away.
Although these drinks are made to be more refreshing than intoxicating, a dash of your favorite locally distilled spirits can add just the kick you’re craving. What other drinks, alcoholic or non-alcoholic are you making these bright spring days? Let me know in the comments below!
Laurie Rockenbeck is a writer, knitter and blogger in Redmond, Washington. Her blog covers a mélange of subjects and can be found at www.laurierockenbeck.com