Friday, May 30, 2014

Josefina's Agua de Melon

A fun, different way to cool down this summer!

So originally, I wanted to do a series of posts featuring birthday treats highlighted in each American Girl birthday book, like I did with holiday treats last December. Unfortunately, between not having a lot of free time on my hands and kind of needing to cool it on how many desserts we go through a month, that plan has... kind of gotten away from me.

Still, I wanted to do something, so happy birthday, Josefina! Very late, but I suppose it's better late than never.

Josefina posed an interesting challenge at first because her birthday treats were a special bread and a cantaloupe. I'm sort of burnt out on trying to make bread work for me, and I mean, what is there to do with a cantaloupe that's not a fruit salad?

Well, little did I know that there was a very easy solution just waiting to be discovered!

Seriously, a Google search for cantaloupe recipes gave me this recipe for Agua de Melon, a drink that helps make good use of overripe fruit. There are several different ways you can make this, but one of the most common and popular features cantaloupes! I was very excited to see where this would go, especially because the recipe itself didn't seem particularly complicated while still being quite different from most other fruit juices I've had. I honestly can't say I've ever had melon juice before!

Unsurprisingly, the first thing you need is...

A cantaloupe! Cantaloupes apparently actually originated in Africa and the Middle East, but are commonly grown in the North America and Europe, and apparently were in Mexico by 1825, if Josefina's books are to be believed. The melon in Happy Birthday, Josefina! is a gift from her friend Mariana and is considered a special treat because melons aren't technically in season for Josefina's birthday, so this is one that's been set aside for a special occasion.

The easiest way to peel a cantaloupe is to slice off the sides so you have a nice, flat base to rest it on while you slice off the rest of the skin with vertical strokes of your knife. It saves most of the melon meat instead of accidentally chopping most of it away!

You also want to make sure most of the green meat is cut away because it's tough and more or less flavorless. My melon wasn't particularly overripe, but I didn't have a lot of options, and it sliced up pretty nicely anyway.

Oh, and then a cup of sugar gets dumped on top of everything. Awesome, right? A cup of water also gets added at this point to make mashing everything up go easier.

Now, we still don't have a blender - unless you count my friend the immersion blender, which I totally do. I love getting opportunities to use it, although I can definitely see that this recipe might have been a little easier if we did have a traditional blender. It took a long time to mash everything up, and required chopping the melon into pretty small pieces which was a tiny bit of a time sink. I still didn't really mind though.

This pulp gets run through a strainer, which takes a long time and is a challenge for someone who has embarrassingly weak wrists. You're left with a mostly clear orange liquid that's got a pretty high melon to water ratio, so it definitely feels a little syrupy at this point.

The recipe calls for about five additional cups of water to dilute the juice. We decided to do about three cups and then add the rest in ice since we were going to be eating outside. The recipe calls for lime to garnish or add a little extra flavor, which I was a tiny bit dubious about, but...

It was actually pretty tasty! Cantaloupe isn't my favorite melon, and definitely isn't my favorite fruit, but something about this was light and refreshing and definitely different from our usual warm weather drinks. The lime really sealed the deal for me, which is strange because I don't usually love lime? It's very hit or miss for me, but something about the tanginess helped offset the sweetness of the melon in a way that rounded things out nicely.

The whole thing took about an hour to make, but I think that was partially because I kept getting distracted and wandered away to do other things while working on it, plus I spent a lot of time with the immersion blender to make sure everything was nice and pulverized. I also take forever when I strain things, because I really want to make sure I'm getting all the juices out, so if you're lazier than me or have a more efficient way of making it, it definitely shouldn't take you that long. It makes a decent amount too, depending on the size of your cantaloupe, so it's definitely something you can make for a party. I'm definitely not an expert on this subject, but it's also probably something you could play around with to create a cantaloupe cocktail, if that's something you're on the market for.

Overall, this was a fun thing to make and something I can pretty confidently say people enjoyed. I know I did!

Now to get ready to enjoy some left overs!


  1. I have the bad habit of buying cantaloupes and then forgetting about them until they're a little soft, so this is an answer to a question that I've actually had for a while. :)

    And I love that the colour Josefina's shawl goes so well with the colour of the juice!

    1. Well, I'm really glad I could help! :D I have to admit, I'm curious to see if you could use other melons for this, I happen to be a fan of honeydew.

  2. I love Josefina's table set up! And the juice looks great! :)

    1. Thank you! My parents got clever cobbled together some doll sized stuff since AG's silly and retired her original set. 8(

  3. Cantaloupe is not one of my favorite melons either, but this looks like a fun way to serve it. I will definitely give it a whirl.
    I also love Josefina's table set...very colorful and pretty!

    1. Thank you! And I definitely felt like this was cantaloupe-y without being too cantaloupe-y, if that makes any sense at all. The lime really helps!