Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Island Limeade

I won't lie to you: Hawaii is hot. Even when you lie completely still at night and have the fan going on full blast and are wearing as little clothing as you can get away with, you still sweat and steam. The coolest time of day, I imagine, is between 4 and 8 o'clock in the morning, which, of course, we never experienced in our two weeks on Kauai. Instead, we spent the hottest part of the day trying to escape the sun. We did our cooking after sundown, and finished the day by sitting in the dark with the fans going while we sipped cool, rummy drinks. 

On a recommendation from our library-loan guidebook, we went to a Guava Plantation, hoping to pick fresh guavas right off the trees. Unfortunately, the plantation had been shut down for a few years, and was undergoing renovations to become an organic farm and restaurant. 

We approached one of the guys doing some painting on what looked like the main building and got our info from him. "Sure, take a look around if you like," he said, pointing us in the direction of the 'Nature Walk'. "And if you find any fruit, just help yourself!" 

Despite taking a very buggy, itchy, and sun-beaten walk through the old plantation, we managed to collect a few stunted guavas, a jackfruit that we ended up leaving on the ground because no one knew how or dared to open it, and a big pile of beautiful limes. They turned out to be incredibly juicy. Limeade was definitely in order. 

Our limeade turned out more brown than green, mostly because of the cane sugar I used to sweeten it. That, and store-bought limeade is probably dyed green. But at the end of a hot day, it was the perfect accompaniment to this sunset. 

Island Limeade
*note: if you don't have enough limes to make a full cup, you can top it up with lemons, using up to a 1/3 cup of lemon juice

1 cup of lime juice, strained for seeds
1 cup of cane sugar
1 cup + 4 cups cold water (or to taste)
lime slices or mint/basil leaves, for garnishing

In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of water to boiling. Stir in the cup of cane sugar, until it is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. 

(If you like, you can peel the zest off of your limes prior to juicing them, and throw those into the pot of water and sugar. It adds a little bit more flavor. Use a vegetable peeler or a small paring knife to do this so the zest stays in strips. Be sure not to boil the zest or it will get bitter. Remove the strips of zest before adding the sugar syrup to the limeade.) 

Meanwhile, juice the limes (and/or lemons) into a measuring cup. Using a spoon or your cupped hand as a make-shift strainer, get rid of all the seeds. I prefer to leave the pulp in, because it looks and tastes more real. 

In a large glass pitcher, combine the strained lime juice, the cooled sugar syrup, and the cold water, and give it a stir or two. Taste to test for balance of citrusy zing and sweetness, and add more water if necessary. Make sure it is really and truly chilled before serving. Garnish with a slice of lime or a sprig of mint. 

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