Pomelona: A Watermelon-Pomegranate Mashup

Pomamelon1wThis sparkling beverage is the result of a pure brainstorming effort to come up with speculative ingredient pairings based on flavor, color and aroma. It is interestingly unusual, and not what one would normally associate with the term “soda pop.”

Obtain a seedless watermelon about six or seven inches in diameter. These mini-melons are grown in Mexico and typically available all year round. If you wish to get experimentally adventurous, try any type of well-ripened sweet melon seasonally available. Honeydew or Crenshaw would be excellent choices.

“Pomegranate” derives from the Latin words for “seeded apple.” Native to Persia, these are now widely cultivated in Mediterranean climates around the world. Pomegranate juice is usually somewhat sweet, though this is balanced with the acidic tannins found in it. The bar-syrup Grenadine was originally concocted of pomegranate juice and sugar, although now most commercial products consist of corn syrup and artificial flavor and color.

Maqui Berries

Maqui Berries

Maqui, AKA Chilean wineberry has a flavor similar to blackberries. The berries are only sparsely cultivated, and most of the commercial crop is gathered by Mapuche families from the wilds near the Andes Mountains. These people sometimes use maqui berries as an ingredient in their fermented chicha, where it was purported to give strength to their warriors. As a health food they are valued for their antioxidant content.

OFL

Orange flower water is a distillation of the blossoms of the bitter orange tree, and is an intensely perfumed ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes, particularly sweets. It’s also added to plain drinking water to liven up the taste and aroma. Here, its aroma mingles with that of the melon, creating an intriguing combination.

RoselleW

Roselle is more commonly known as “hibiscus flower” though the herb is actually the calyx of the plant. It has one of the highest levels of antioxidants found among widely available foods.

Pomelona watermelon pomegranate soda is a full-flavored refreshing drink that will pair well with spicy Mediterranean or Middle Eastern dishes.

Tamarango: Tamarind Mango Soda

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In addition to the creative factor in selecting beverage ingredients for their flavor balance, it’s interesting to add an overall theme to the selection process. The following recipes establish a thematic spectrum that develops the “idea” or state of mind that the beverage expresses. Tamarango suggests a trip to the Tropics, where all of its ingredients are well-established culinary items.

The tamarind fruit is a common beverage ingredient there. It is actually a legume, not a berry. Tamarind trees originated in North Africa, but because of their value as food and a provider of building materials, cultivation has spread throughout the tropical regions. South Asia and Mexico are the two areas where tamarind is most popular as a food item; there it provides a sweet but tangy contribution to sauces, curries and beverages. It also forms an important part of the flavor of Worcestershire and steak sauces said to have originated in India.

The pulp inside the tamarind fruit is the edible part, but most types are very sour. A variety of tamarind has been developed in Thailand, however, that is quite sweet, and used for snacking right out of the pod. It is this variety that goes into Tamarango.
Sweet tamarind
Mango provides the second most prominent flavor component in the beverage. Indeed, it can be found sold as dried slices mixed with tamarind paste and dusted with sugar to make a sweet and sour confection.

The mango puree in this recipe is from the Ataulfo variety discovered in the Chiapas state of southern Mexico. They are seasonally available in Western supermarkets, and can be identified by their moderate size, lozenge shape and golden-yellow skin. While any well-ripened variety will work, this one is known for its exceptional sweetness (15-18 percent sugar), and lack of fibrous interior. Ataulfo mangoes are also quite aromatic. The larger Sindhi mango would be another excellent choice.

Galangal is a spicier relative of ginger, featured in many examples of Thai and Indian cooking. Galangal and lime juice tonic is well known in parts of Southeast Asia.
The wild herb epazote is a nod to the popularity of tamarind in Mexico. This weed is quite common throughout Mexico and the American Southwest, and adds a peppery, minty flavor to Tamarango.

Clockwise from top left: Tulsi Krishna, Tulsi Rama, Epazote

Clockwise from top left: Tulsi Krishna, Tulsi Rama, Epazote


Tulsi, sometimes known as Holy Basil, is a plant held sacred in Hinduism. It is known in Auvedic medicine for its ability to protect against the effects of stress on the body. The recipe calls for two varieties of tulsi, purple-leafed Krishna, with a peppery crisp taste, and Rama, with a mellower, minty flavor.

Top it off with a twist of lemon peel. Fantastic.

Apple Pie Sweet-Sour Soda

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Jolly Rancher candy inspires this drink. Founded in 1949, Jolly Rancher was a Colorado company that sold ice cream, candies and sodas in its shops around Denver and Golden. Their sour apple hard candy is something of a benchmark in early 1950s extreme flavor experimentation. The Jolly Rancher brand ended up in the hands of Hershey, but the flavor of their sour apples lingers on. Sweet and sour can do an intriguing balancing act on the palate.
Apple pie is another sweet-sour flavor standard. This Apple Pie Soda takes the sharp tang of the best tart pie apples, Granny Smith, and adds a crusty spiciness to make a smooth mellow drink. The Granny Smith apples are left to sweat a good month or more after their purchase, to develop umami flavor through ripening and partial fermentation. When they are ready they will start to turn slightly yellow and yield easily to a thumb pushing down on their surface.
Grind the apples to a pulp in a food mill or processor, put the pulp in a fruit press bag and squeeze out all the juice. Heat this with the honey to 75C (167F), add roots, herbs and spices. Cover cool and strain.

Use the frozen syrup method with club soda to bottle the drink, age refrigerated for two weeks, serve with a scoop of ice cream if you like pie a la mode!