When temperatures are at their peak, especially now in the Northern Hemisphere, one wants to cool off. While hanging out in front of the AC all day is indeed an option, you have to hydrate. Water is the obvious choice, but I'm here to suggest some refreshing alternatives that are not sugar-laden sodas.
When it comes to summer thirst-quenchers, lemonade is a classic choice. But did you know that lemonade originated in Egypt? The initial recipe was just lemon juice mixed with honey and water to make a refreshing drink to be sipped when the scorching heat of summer descends on the Nile. It is said that the drink became especially popular when Islam forbade the consumption of alcohol and people still wanted something other than water to drink. Either way, here is a healthy sugar-free version to enjoy on a hot summer day.
Before juicing the lemon, you’ll want to zest the lemon. A thin grater will do the trick, but be very careful not to grate off any of the white pith, as that is what makes the lemon taste bitter. Add the zest to the water before you squeeze the lemon and add the juice to the water as well. As the last step, add the honey and mix until it has fully dissolved. Let this mix cool off in the fridge for at least an hour. If you are bothered by the zest pieces you can run this all through a sieve before drinking.
Keep in mind that each lemon has varying amounts of juice and the sourness varies as well. Although one lemon should be enough, feel free to add as much as you like. The zest is optional as well but it feels like a waste to throw it away when it can add so much flavor to the drink.
Don’t be afraid to add other fruit as well! A dash of apple juice instead of honey can be used as a sweetener. A lime or an orange can be added to the drink to make for yummy combinations.
Yes, you read right. Licorice is not a chewy candy but also a drink that has been consumed for centuries in Turkey – but not even all Turks know of this drink. It is traditionally drunk in the southeastern regions of the country such as Diyarbakır, where they make this drink in summer. It is truly an ancient drink once commonly consumed for its health benefits. Tablets unearthed in Baghdad mention licorice for medicinal purposes dating back to 650 B.C.! The drink's popularity survived throughout the centuries, so much so that there are different recipes for it listed in a 13th-century anonymous Andalusian cookbook.
Historical value aside, you can make this drink really easily:
If they are not already clean you’ll want to clean the roots thoroughly. Then, with the help of a pestle, crush the roots as much as possible. You can skip this step and buy them already crushed at your trusty spice shop (yes, I was surprised that they had those!). Now, add water to the roots, making sure they are completely covered. Use a plate or something else heavy to keep them submerged. Now you just wait for several hours. Slowly the water will change in color and after about 4-5 hours you can run the licorice juice through a sieve, preferably lined with a cheesecloth, to remove all the wooden parts and cool the liquid in the fridge. You can add sweeteners to the drink at this point depending on your taste.
Now if you found the licorice sherbet weird, you're probably thinking: Why should this taste any good? I will tell you why. Sumac has been used as a substitute for lemons for hundreds of years. Doesn’t it make sense that you can make a drink that resembles lemonade but looks extra enticing thanks to its reddish color? While these may seem like rhetorical questions, a single sip of this delicious drink will give you an answer. Try out this recipe to make it:
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and warm up the water. You do not want it to boil! Take it off the heat and let it cool. Once it has reached room temperature (depending on how warm your environment is that can vary in time) run the sherbet through a sieve to remove all the sumac pieces and let it cool off in the fridge. Again you don’t need to add any sweeteners if you don’t want to, so adding those at the very end and tasting it when it is cold is the best option.
To keep your drinks cool naturally, you might automatically opt for basic ice cubes. While it makes sense, you’ll want to have a couple of other options too. I love lemonade, so I usually pour a bit of the lemonade itself into the ice tray and freeze that as cubes. No worries about watering down anything. You can use this tip for any drink! I like to make iced coffee as well and frozen coffee cubes are the best thing ever.
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