There is no time like a heat wave to unlearn everything you thought you knew about watermelon. I don’t need to tell you that a slice of fresh watermelon cold from the fridge is one of life’s perfect things. But most of my attempts to bake with it or turn it into drinks, with this exception, have had limited success, because there is a mildness, a gentleness to watermelon that gets smothered under other things. “So, just eat it fresh and be done with it,” would be a reasonable, rational takeaway. The watermelon has spoken; it has told you its limits. But I don’t want to be reasonable nor rational, and I’ve been pining for a frozen watermelon mojito for a couple summers now and been stuck at the impasse of knowing once I added the requisite ice, simple syrup, or club soda, the watermelon-y impact would be all but diminished. I’m not sure why it took me as long as it did to have my a-ha moment but the solution was, well, right next to the ice cubes in the freezer.
Freezing your watermelon in cubes and foregoing the ice cubes is summer drink brilliance. It actually tastes like watermelon because you haven’t diluted it in any way. The texture is fantastic enough that you might skip the club soda too (but adding a splash basically makes it a grown-up Slurpee; you’re welcome). Simple syrup, and the water involved in making it, is never necessary if you can just dissolve sugar in your lime juice. I’ve made it as straight frosty watermelon lemonade and limeade (no rum; keep the mint if you wish) but as a heatwave balm of a summer drink that takes approximately 65 seconds* to make, it’s downright revolutionary.
* because you had the forethought to go ahead and freeze watermelon right now. Go! Make a giant bag of cubes and have this at the ready all summer. I promise you’ll thank you later.
One year ago: Corn Fritters and Bourbon Peach Smash
Two years ago: Hummus Heaped with Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Three years ago: Corn, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta
Four years ago: Tomato and Fried Provolone Sandwich
Five years ago: Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles and Grilled Peach Splits
Six years ago: One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes and Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
Seven years ago: Bacon Corn Hash
Eight years ago: Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones
Nine years ago: Mango Slaw with Cashews and Mint, Thai-Style Chicken Legs, Peach Blueberry Cobbler, and Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons
Ten years ago: Light Brioche Burger Buns, Blueberry Boy Bait, and Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza
Eleven years ago: Chocolate Sorbet
Twelve years ago: Double Chocolate Layer Cake
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Chocolate Puddle Cakes
1.5 Years Ago: Korean Braised Short Ribs
2.5 Years Ago: Small-Batch Tiramisu
3.5 Years Ago: Hot and Sour Soup and Belgian Brownie Cakelets
4.5 Years Ago: Oven-Braised Beef with Tomatoes and Garlic and Pecan Sticky Buns
Frozen Watermelon Mojito
Let’s talk about sweetness: A thing I noticed making a few rounds of these is that the level of sweetness that tastes exactly right out of the freezer/blender (2 tablespoons) tastes a bit sweet for my tastes as it defrosts. That’s why there’s a range here; you’ll find your sweet spot (sorry) when you make it. For lemonade for the kids, I usually go up to 3 tablespoons of sugar per pitcher. Sweetness will of course vary by the ripeness of the melon.
Let’s talk about booze: 1 shot (3 tablespoons or 1.5 ounces) per glass makes a gentle cocktail but we found an extra splash (1 tablespoon or so) to be the right level for the size drinks we made.
- 1 pound (a scant 4 cups) watermelon in 1-inch cubes (from about 2 pounds with rind on)
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes), plus wedges for serving
- 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 to 4 ounces (6 to 8 tablespoons) white rum
- Leaves from 1 to 2 sprigs of fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
- Two splashes of seltzer (optional)
Spread watermelon cubes on a tray lined with plastic wrap or parchment (for easiest removal) and chill in freezer until frozen. Add sugar to lime juice and stir to combine; sugar should dissolve in a minute or two. Place frozen watermelon, sweetened lime juice, and rum in blender and blend until thick but smooth. Add mint and pulse a few more times, so that is chopped but not pureed. Pour into two glasses. Top with a splash of seltzer if you wish, finish with lime wedges and extra mint. Repeat all summer.