While I wanted to share a classic thirst quenching, refreshing Israeli drink for the summer, I wanted to give it a further twist, to shy away from the obvious. In fact you can find Limonana year round in Israel whether you are at a poolside hotel bar at the Red Sea, at the beach side cafes along the Mediterranean or at a bed and breakfast up north in the Galilee. Limonana and wedges of watermelon and feta, two Israeli summer's musts!
Limonana, Limon - Lemon לימון and nana - mint נענע = Limonana לימונענע. Here comes the interesting part, while I was at Wegmans, I saw some Lemondrop melons that reminded me of Israel. So I bought two. They were 2/$5. Quite by chance I came by these relatively compact jewels. I meant to post a recipe for Limonana for awhile now but something held me back. Once I bought the melons I had a premonition that the flavors will mesh well and I had a crystal clear sensation of the texture and taste that will emerge. I all along intended to present this revitalizing concoction in a form of sorbet, as I am in summer mode putting to good use my ice cream maker.
Serve: for light dessert, a palate cleanser or as popsicles while the kids run around in the yard this summer. Please make sure to read cook's notes at the end.
1. Peel, seed and cube melon into large cubes. Puree in a food processor and set aside in a bowl with a lid.
2. Juice the lemons and strain. Make sure all seeds are out. Press pulp to extract all juice. Add into a small sauce pan.
3. Add 1/2 cup sugar to lemon juice and washed springs of fresh mint.
4. Turn heat to low/medium and let sugar dissolve in lemon juice while occasionally stirring with a rubber spatula. This process is fairly quick.
5. Add lemon syrup with fresh mint into pureed Lemonddrop melon. Cover with a lid and keep refrigerated overnight.
6. Next day take mint leaves out, squeeze any liquid out of it. It's too precious to waste, and discard the mint leaves.
7. Churn mint infused melon lemon mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions for approximately 20-30 minutes. Store in ice cream containers, Tupperware with a lid or in Popsicle plastic molds in the freezer until frozen.
1.A.Letting the mint leaves steep into lemon melon puree overnight makes sure we infuse the mint flavor without overwhelming the melon/lemon flavors. A fantastic balance is created. You taste each ingredient with every bite. The mixture also needs to chill well before being churned in the ice cream maker. 1.B. I did consider whizzing few mint leaves with the melon puree and decided against it. 1.C. I also considered dressing up the sorbet afterwards with crystallized mint leaves or a dust of the crystallized mint leaves, while it's pretty cool, again I decided against it. 1.D. Lastly I considered adding Limoncello (alcoholic lemon flavored liquor) to the sorbet. Regardless of the benefits of achieving less icy consistency by adding the alcohol, since alcohol doesn't freeze, I felt I wanted to keep it family friendly and also felt I achieved a perfect flavor balance, but it is a viable option if you want your sorbet boozy.
2.A. Speaking of consistency, brings to mind the sugar. While I like this recipe at 3/4 lemon juice to a 1/2 cup sugar I'd probably be ok at 3/4 cups as well. 2.B. Without getting too much into the science of things, I read an article in Hebrew that mentioned the Brix Refractometer, an expensive gadget that measures the density of sugar in juice/fruit base sorbet mixture. Ratio of simple syrup to fruit/juice is critical in achieving the right consistency. Honestly I don't own this expensive gadget, and even if I did, and the refractometer didn't read the ideal 16-18 for the perfect sorbet, I was not about to add more simple syrup than mentioned in 2.A. anyways. 2.C. Another way to measure if the ratio is correct and can be a cool experiment with the kids is: wash an egg and dry. Put egg gently inside the simple syrup/fruit/juice mixture. If the egg bobs above the mixture, the ratio is correct. If not, you need to slowly add more simple syrup until the egg bobs.The link to the article in Hebrew: http://tinyurl.com/3pxogrv. 2.D. Use only ripe fruit in their peak of flavor. Overripe leaning to spoil won't result in best quality. Different fruits have different levels of natural sugar content and therefore will need different ratio of fruit/juice:simple syrup. Apparently the fruit:simple syrup ratio as a rule should be 1:1. In sweeter fruit like pineapple ratio of fruit:simple syrup should be 1:0.6. Simple syrup recipe: 1 part water 1 part sugar. Also keep in mind when frozen, sorbet will taste less sweet than when in liquid form. 2.E. Why didn't I create simple syrup with water but instead used the lemon? There is no added water in this recipe other than the natural water in the melon and lemon.
3.Before serving: let container sit in room temperature for few minutes before scooping. Popsicles should easily slip out without letting them sit at room temperature. If necessary do it but not for too long. Also can run hot water over the Popsicle molds for few seconds before slipping them out only if necessary.
4. You can also get to step 6 in directions, do not discard mint leaves, add some fresh ones and serve with some ice cubes as a virgin maragrita instead of churning into sorbet or add some Limoncello and ice cubes for a boozy cocktail. 5. It's my lone pic as I wanted to re shoot the sorbet in a different setting but maybe I will when I make the next batch!
Note added August 1, 2011: After contacting Wegmans in reference to the Lemondrop melon I and everyone else was curious about and all googling failed to produce information here is the answer their Consumer Service Specialist emailed me:
'Here is some info from the seed company about the origins:
The Lemondrop Melon gets its lemon taste from naturally occurring citric acid.
The Lemondrop melon development process began some 12+ years ago when a seed breeder discovered a highly acidic “heirloom type” melon from the Mediterranean Region. The fruit produced from the original heirloom type were only 2” to 3” in diameter and quite tart and tangy. The breeding challenge was to combine the traditional sweet melon with this tart and tangy background to bring a new and refreshing flavor to melon. Over a period of many years using traditional breeding techniques (Non-GMO) the attributes of this sharp-tasting melon were crossed with more traditional sweet type melons hundreds of time and eventually the lemondrop melon was developed."'
The Lemondrop Melon is naturally fat free.
The Lemondrop Melon is high in Vitamin A and C.
(Over 100% recommended daily allowance per cup)
The Lemondrop Melon is a low calorie food. (One cup of melon has approx. 60 calories)
The Lemondrop Melon is also a good source of potassium and dietary fiber.