I buy mint leaves with the very best of intentions. I’ve tried growing them many times, but that’s another story. All is fine for a day or two. Then the leaves begin to wilt, while I rack my brains to come up with ways to use them up. I just cannot resist this fragrant herb, so I end up buying them every week. One way I preserve them for future use is to blend the leaves with a little bit of oil. I then freeze the mixture in ice trays. A couple of cubes can be added to curries and soups as needed, but not in any recipes that call for fresh mint, of course.
When we visited India a couple of months back (when it was already unbearably hot), there was one item I always ordered whenever we dined out – lemon and mint juice (or sometimes, lemon and mint soda). I did try it out on my own. But again, it is best with fresh mint leaves.
This led me to think about making a juice concentrate with my slightly wilted leaves. Mind you, the leaves were still green. You do not want to use completely ruined leaves. But mint leaves that are a couple of days old will be fine. I had a vague idea of how to go about it. My mom used to make aam panna or green mango and ginger concentrate during summer. I didn’t see why I couldn’t recreate that using lemon, mint and ginger.
To start with, I boiled some water with crushed ginger and mint leaves, and allowed them to steep for half an hour. Then I strained the solution, added sugar and lemon juice and placed it on the stove again. From then on, it was a matter of time. I reduced the solution till I ended up with a light syrup-like consistency.
There is no exact recipe here (but I will try!). It was all done by constantly checking the concentrate to see if it had reached a consistency I liked. You may stop when the solution starts to lightly coat a spoon dipped into it. You will know the difference between sticking a spoon in liquid and a light juice concentrate. Trust me, you will.
The prepared concentrate was cooled completely, filled in a clean jam bottle and refrigerated. Whenever you need a refreshing drink, simply add a tablespoon or so to a glass of cold water or soda.
I ended up with a jam bottle’s worth of concentrate, but I am pretty sure the recipe can be scaled up. I had to literally hide the bottle from my hubby so that I could take pictures! So as you can see, most of it was already gone.
LEMON-MINT-GINGER SUMMER COOLER
You will need:
- Water – 4 cups
- Mint leaves – a large handful, say around 30 leaves
- Ginger – 2 tbsp, crushed
- Sugar – 3/4 – 1 cup (as per taste)
- Lemons – 4-6, large (as per tartness desired)
- Add the ginger and mint leaves to the water and bring to a gentle boil. Cover the pot and allow to steep for at least half an hour.
- Strain the liquid and return to the pot. Add sugar and place the pot on medium heat.
- Meanwhile, juice the lemons. Do this in another bowl, so that you do not accidentally get any seeds in the solution.
- Add the lemon juice and reduce the solution to around 1/3rd the original quantity. You know you are done when a spoon dipped into the concentrate has a thin film of liquid sticking to it.
- Remove from heat and cool completely. Store in a clean, dry bottle and refrigerate.
- To prepare a drink, add a tablespoon or so of the concentrate to a glass of cold water or soda. Again, the amount depends on the level of sweetness and tartness you like. I personally prefer a light drink.
And there you have it – a refreshing lemon-mint-ginger cooler. Perfect for the hot summer months ahead.
Here are some more cool ideas!
I am linking this up to parties at these awesome blogs.
- A Blossoming Life
- Skip To My Lou
- The Dedicated House
- Between Naps on the Porch
- Home Stories A To Z
- My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
- A Stroll Thru Life
- Cedar Hill Ranch
- Coastal Charm
- Elizabeth & Co
- House On The Way
- Savvy Southern Style
- The NY Melrose Family
- The Turquoise Home
- Living Well Spending Less
- Design Dining and Diapers
- The Shabby Nest
- French Country Cottage
- Common Ground
- My Romantic Home
- The Charm of Home
- Thirty Handmade Days
- Crafts a la Mode
- Love of Family and Home
- The Novice Gardener
- DIY Show Off
- Nifty Thrifty Things
- By Stephanie Lynn