Remember how I said I was really holding on to the last few days of summer? I meant it. This lemonade is like summer in a glass–it’s sweet, refreshing, and so pink! Watermelon has long been my second favorite fruit (behind strawberries), but I feel like one shouldn’t waste time with a sub-par watermelon. It’s hard to tell (I’m the person tapping EVERY watermelon in the store), but when you get a good one, it’s something to remember. I love to eat watermelon with a little bit of salt on it–not because it’s some hip foodie thing to do but because that’s how I always experienced watermelon: sitting in the sand or on the edge of a boat, in my bathing suit, dripping with saltwater, watermelon juice running down my chin. By the time I stopped for a snack, I would have been thoroughly pickled with pruny fingers, so some salt inevitably made its way onto the melon. As it should be.
This recipe is actually a way to use a less-than ideal watermelon. This one was juicy but just wasn’t all that flavorful. But once it was blended up and mixed with some simple syrup and lemon juice, you’d never know. I also added some rosemary to the simple syrup, but mostly because that’s a hip foodie thing to do, I’ll be honest. It does add sort of an earthy flavor so that the sweetness isn’t overpowering.
Homemade lemonade is one of those things that you just have to do at least once every summer. It’s definitely more work than it should be, but it’s so worth it. It really happens in three parts: simple syrup, watermelon puree, and lemon juice. Have you ever made simple syrup? It’s crazy to me that you can buy it at the store! It’s really just equal parts water and sugar, heated until the sugar dissolves. You can add really anything (in this case, rosemary) but that’s all there is to it. (Except that I always want to spell it symple syrup. Or simply syrup.)
Here’s the recipe:
(loosely adapted from smittenkitchen.com)
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 4-5 regular lemons)
4 cups watermelon puree (strained)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary plus more for garnish
In a saucepan, heat the sugar, water, and rosemary until almost boiling, stirring constantly. When the sugar is dissolved, remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool.
Juice all the lemons until you have 1 cup juice. I usually strain it to get rid of the pulp and seeds.
Cut the watermelon into chunks. Depending on the size of the melon, you’ll need about half of it. I just went ahead and cut it all into chunks and saved the rest. Puree the chunks in the bowl of a food processor (or blender) until smooth. Strain and measure–you should have about 4 cups.
I like to serve each element of the lemonade separately and let people mix their own. You want the least amount of simple syrup, then lemon juice, and then the most watermelon juice. I usually add some plain water or sparkling, too. You, of course, can add it all together in a pitcher, but you won’t need all of the simple syrup–maybe about half. Save the rest for other things–cocktails, added to plain seltzer–you’ll thank me.