There’s nothing quite like a glass of fresh-squeezed limeade to cool you off on a hot day. The zingy citrus flavor coupled with a splash of sweetness is borderline addictive. As the weather’s been getting toastier here in Colorado, I’ve gotten on a kick of making my own limeade from scratch. For me, it calls up memories of carefree childhood summer days – my mom used to make limeade when I was little and I have loved it ever since.
One day, when I was making a batch of limeade, I happened to have some seedless watermelon on hand that I needed to use up somehow. My partner and I had just been cutting it up and eating slices – but that day, I got an idea. In past summers I’ve eaten watermelon slices dipped in a mixture of lime juice and a hint of hot sauce (which is strangely delicious, if you haven’t tried it), and I reminisced on that delightful melding of sweet, tart and spicy notes. I was in an experimental mood, so I took my fresh batch and blended it with some of the watermelon to see what would happen.
The results were magical. And today I would like to share this bit of summer joy with you: it’s really simple, it just takes a few minutes to whip up, and it uses a grand total of four ingredients. Easy peasy. I found the original limeade recipe on MyRecipes, made some minor adjustments and put my own twist on it.
If you are more of a lemon person, you can easily sub out lemons for limes in this recipe. Just note that since lemons tend to be bigger and yield more juice than limes, you likely won’t need to juice quite as many fruits. I will say that I am personally more fond of the flavor of limes. According to Spoon University, limes are actually harvested before they’re ripe, so they’re less sweet and more tart than lemons. Their high citric acid content makes the flavor stand out really well against the sweetness of the watermelon. But, your juice, your choice.
To your health and enjoyment!
Fresh Watermelon Limeade Recipe
10-12 limes (or 6-8 lemons)
-1 cup cane sugar
-1 cup water
2-3 large watermelon wedges, seedless (or seeds removed) with rinds cut off
4 cups cold water
Fresh herbs for garnish (optional; I used lemon balm in my photo, but mint or basil should do just as well)
- Start your simple syrup. Heat cane sugar and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan on medium heat until just boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Stir until sugar completely dissolves into water. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
*A note here: Making the simple syrup may seem like an unnecessary step. You might be tempted to just add sugar to the lime juice and dilute with water – but I’m here to warn you: don’t do it! The sugar won’t dissolve that way and you’ll wind up with grainy juice (I learned this the hard way). Simple syrup does a much better job of blending into the juice.
- While the simple syrup is cooking, cut the lemons or limes into halves and juice them using a handheld or electric juicer. You could squeeze them by hand, but a juicer – especially an electric juicer – will make your life so much easier. Limes especially can be a bit tough – if you find that this is the case, you can roll them against a hard surface before cutting to soften them up a bit.
- Once you have roughly 1½ -2 cups of juice, add the juice to a blender. Remove the rinds from your watermelon wedges, coarsely chop the flesh and throw them in the blender. Blend at a low setting until juice looks evenly mixed.
*Between the limes and the watermelon, this juice can get pretty pulpy. I like mine that way, but I know not everyone is a fan. You can strain the mixture after taking it out of the blender if you’d rather go pulp-free.
- Add your cold water to the mixture, and then, once your syrup has cooled a bit, add some sweetness. I suggest starting with just a dollop at first, stirring your juice and seeing how it tastes before adding more. What I like about this approach is that you can keep tweaking until you get the exact balance of sweet and tart flavors that you find most irresistible.
*Unless you like your limeade really sweet, you will most likely not use all of the simple syrup! I don’t use very much of it when I make this recipe. This works in my favor because I can save the extra syrup in the fridge for future batches.
- Pour into a glass with ice, garnish if desired, and enjoy this simple-but-delectable treat!
Questions? Feedback? I’d love to hear them! Feel free to give me a shout in the comments below.