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A favorite drink from Polynesia

Summer is over, but watermelons are still hanging on - why not take it a bit further and make a memorable watermelon drink. I have been living in Polynesia for the past 20 years, and this drink always makes a big hit at gatherings. You'll run out of it before the food is even served.

Make sure you use clean surfaces and wash your hands and tools you use. First, choose your watermelon. Look over the watermelons and find one that is symmetrical, firm, and free of bruises, cuts, or dents. Pick it up. It should be heavy for its size, as watermelons are 92% water. The outside of the watermelon should have a dull, healthy sheen. It should not have a bright, shiny surface. Turn it over. The underside should have a tell-tale “ripe spot”, a creamy yellow spot where the watermelon sat on the ground. This spot develops as the melon grows on the soil. If the spot is greenish or white in color, it’s not ripe yet. Watermelons don’t continue to ripen once they’ve been picked, so this is an important clue to watch for.

It is easiest to choose a watermelon without seeds, but if you have one with seeds, this will be the most tedious part. Cut watermelon in half and spoon out seeds - the little yellow ones don't count. Then use a fork to mash the fruit. You want it to still be fleshy (it is a drink you eat and drink at the same time). Now put half of the mashed watermelon into a large bowl and add two quarts of water, one to two cups of sugar (depending on preference), two cups of half and half (fat free is best) or one can of coconut milk. You can also throw in a handful of grated coconut from a bag - or grate a fresh coconut, if you have experience doing so.

Add one can of crushed pineapple or use fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut in small pieces. Be sure to mix until the sugar no longer scrapes on the bottom of the container.

Chill before serving or if you are in a hurry, you can add ice. I promise you won't be disappointed. You can add shaven ice but drink soon or it will not be as good.

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