By Rebecca Fending
Each season is paired with flavor profiles that are unique to the months that comprise its time of year. For summer, there are a multitude of fresh, bright tastes that make it seem as though you’re enjoying the sun itself on your plate or in your glass. From a classic lemonade to baking with fresh lavender, there’s no limit to the number of ways you can perfectly customize and make your own food and beverages during the warmest time of year. Here are a few flavors that are light, summery and easy to integrate for a seasonal twist on any dish.
Liven up summer with fresh lemon
Although lemons tend to be a year-round fruit for Floridians, something about the intense taste of a fresh lemon is so much more refreshing during a hot, heavy, humid day. Possibly one of the most versatile fruits known to man, there’s no shortage of ways you can use fresh lemons every day. A quick squeeze of this citrus fruit can brighten up any dish or sauce you make, from tuna salad to pesto. But what about recipes where lemon is the star?
Recently, I was shown how to make my own limoncello out of fresh lemons and Everclear, a “rectified spirit“. If you don’t know what limoncello is, you’re in for a treat. This traditional Italian liqueur comes from the southern most part of the country which is famous for its lemon groves. Depending on the brand or how you choose to make it, the liqueur can either be sweet and sippable, or more tart and enjoyed with a mixer. Personally, I like mixing it with pomegranate or cranberry juice; a magnificent mix of sweet and tart.
Making your own limoncello is quite easy. Depending on what you’d prefer, you can either zest or peel 10 lemons and place the product in the bottom of a glass container (preferably one with a locking jar-like lid). Pour a 750 mL bottle of Everclear into the container, seal and let sit in a cool, dark place. Let the contents marinate for one to four weeks, gently shaking once each day.
When the mixture is to your liking, strain out the lemon zest/peels and make a simple syrup to add to the contents. Sweeten the liquor to your taste and add water to your liking. Pour over ice, juice or soda. Enjoy!
One of the reasons I love this newfound homemade limoncello recipe is because you have an armada of peeled lemons left over- what do you do when life hands you lemons? Make lemonade, of course! Not only is lemonade the quintessential summer beverage for people of any age, but it’s a great and tasty way to absorb vitamin C. You can add as much or as little sugar or substitute sweetener and water as you’d like to your lemonade, making it uniquely your own recipe. Be sure to strain out any unwanted pulp or large seeds so as to enjoy the fruits of your labor to the max.
The beautiful thing about lemonade? You can add virtually any additional flavor (whether it be juice from another fruit or a homemade flavored syrup from a backyard bush) you want… so you may want to read the rest of this article for inspiration on how to personalize your beverages.
Hydrate and cool down with watermelon
Possibly the king (or queen) when it comes to distinct summertime flavors, watermelons are the perfect summer treat. Whether you choose to enjoy a slice on your front porch or want to work the juice into a salad dressing, this seasonal beauty is ideal for any use. Its flavor is neutral enough to where it won’t over power other flavors in your dish or drink, but adds a unique and enjoyable flavor profile.
One great way to use watermelon in ways other than enjoying it solitaire is by cutting it into chunks and tossing it in with a salad. Start with a base of arugula, spinach or a mix then add your favorite mild cheese, nuts and other veggie toppings such as red onion or peppers. This makes a refreshing lunch or side dish with dinner. Additionally, you can enhance the watermelon flavor within your salad by making a puree from watermelon and combining it with a bit of honey, vinegar and dijon mustard. Quick, easy and fresh.
Using this same method of pureeing watermelon, you can add watermelon puree to a number of drinks and cocktails. For example, add two tablespoons of the puree to a glass of your homemade lemonade or limoncello cocktail to amplify the summery aspect of your beverage.
Lighten up with a lavender flavored syrup
If you’re a fan of floral flavors and scents, these ideas for infusing lavender into your favorite drinks and foods was made for you. Recently, making your own lavender-flavored syrup for drinks has become popularized as a way to create a deeper flavor profile. Not only does it taste great, but it also adds a gorgeous purple hue to your beverage and inflates your house with the relaxing smell of lavender. Making it couldn’t be easier: one cup water, two cups sugar and three tablespoons of dried lavender flowers. Combine and simmer the ingredients in a sauce pan for about 15 minutes or until the color is a deep purple and the sugar is dissolved. Keep stored in your fridge in a sealing bottle or other container.
Another way people are using lavender is by including it in baked goods. From adding a bit of dried lavender flowers to lemon loaves to baking it into Earl Grey cookies, lavender is making its name known this summer in a number of refreshing ways.