Wanna know the hardest thing about writing a book based on one’s food blog?
Keeping your mouth shut.
You all know I love to share new ideas and what’s coming next on the blog, but I’ve really had to scale back so I don’t end up posting all the recipes from the book that I’m so excited to share with you soon. It’s like having my hands tied, or my mouth covered in duct tape or something. And while I have great recipes to share that aren’t book-related, the ones I want to post NOW are all the ones I have to keep mum about. ‘Tis a terrible conundrum, but also an excellent exercise in patience and restraint.
There are some recipes, however, that teeter on the “???” list; meaning, the list of recipes that could go either way: into the blog queue or into the book. This refreshing little drink is one of those recipes, and I’m pretty glad I decided to put it on here since it’s perfect for the hot, hot holiday that’s just around the corner.
Here in California most summer produce is out in full force at farmers’ markets and grocery stores alike, and I am in absolute heaven because of it. Peaches, plums, blueberries, cherries, blackberries, nectarines – you name it, it’s out there! Every time I work one of the markets it’s like being right in the center of a delicious rainbow of colors & aromas, so it’s impossible not to feel inspired to enjoy it all at once.
Despite the fact that cherry season is in full swing (and I’m having oh-so-much fun with that!), strawberries are still going quite strong as well, so I’ve done my best to make sure I don’t ignore them. This most recent batch of berries came as a complete surprise to me because they were, once again, a gift from a vendor. Now, I love that they are so generous with me; unfortunately, my nano-fridge does not, so it’s become quite the challenge to store everything properly. Not wanting to waste anything, I am constantly finding new ways to use my awesome produce, whether it’s by canning/freezing, or using it in old standby recipes.
Then comes the I Wish I Had Enough Room For A Juicer moment, for a lot of these excess produce problems are easily solved by just juicing every darn thing and enjoying that instead. Alas, with a mere 20″ of counter space in this kitchen, that moment is short lived, but it does give me an idea for those extra strawberries. And with the key limes I had just picked up from Grocery Outlet for a mere $0.99 (for 2 lbs!!!), I knew exactly what to do with them.
Now, don’t feel bad if you can’t find key limes at your store. They’re not the most common citrus here in the US, though they’re finally seeing a rise in popularity as more chefs discover them & use them for their distinct flavor profile. But if you can find them, I highly recommend using them over regular limes for a few different reasons. First, obviously, is the taste. It’s hard to describe, but the flavor of the key lime is almost more floral, not quite sweet but almost, and 100% refreshing. Then there’s the fact that they’re practically all juice, as opposed to their larger cousins, which are usually all lovely peel and very little juice. I like a lot of bang for my buck, and key limes really know how to deliver.
Lastly, there’s the price. While it doesn’t happen at every store, for the most part, key limes tend to be far less expensive than regular limes. Many are sold bagged for about $2 for 1-2 lbs; some sold at ethnic food stores are sold for even less than that. Considering the fact that you can spend up to $0.50 on ONE regular grocery store lime that has almost zero juice, the savings can be quite good. But again, I understand that not everyone has access to this particular fruit, so of course, look for the things you can actually buy.
This is a great way to make use of any excess fruit you may have, so feel free to mix it up with different berries if you’re feeling inspired. I may have to add this to Tip #15, which is all about being kind to your produce (since it’s so kind to you), because I don’t think I really addressed using fresh produce for beverages very much in that post. Practicalities & logistics aside this is a deliciously refreshing drink that is easy to make and can be enjoyed all summer long, especially as we celebrate Independence Day tomorrow! Hope you all have a safe, fun, and delicious holiday!
Sparkling Strawberry Limeade (makes 8-10 servings; average cost per serving: $0.75)
Juicing key limes can be a bit time consuming because of their small size, but their juice is well worth the effort! To get the most juice out of each lime, be sure they’re at room temperature before making your limeade. Also give each lime a good roll a few times, so you break apart some of the juice sacs inside, making it easier to squeeze out all the yummy goodness inside. Try this with lemons, too! Works wonders. : )
2 c fresh strawberries, trimmed & halved
1 1/2 c freshly squeezed lime juice (Key lime is preferable, but regular limes will do just fine)
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c still water
3-4 c sparkling water
1. Combine the strawberries and two tablespoons each of lime juice and sugar in a bowl or blender cup. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the strawberries until smooth. Strain the strawberry puree through a sieve or fine mesh colander, so that the seeds are removed. Set aside.
2. In a separate container, combine the remaining lime juice, sugar and still water, and mix until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the strawberry puree and mix until thoroughly combined, then carefully add the sparkling water.
3. Check for flavor and adjust according to taste with more sugar if needed. Serve in chilled glasses or over ice, garnish with fresh strawberries & lime wedges, and enjoy!