Fresh off the heels of last week's successful Fresh Finds Market Excursion, I'm bringing another one of the featured vendors to my blog here. The good people at Sumac Catering make some really lovely Middle Eastern beverages, including one with rosewater. Last week we made a stop at their stand and sampled their Moroccan Mint Lemonade, which takes the prize for being the most lemony lemonade I've tasted in a long time. They've shared their recipe with the Easton Farmers' Market, and I've adapted it here.
This lemonade is unusual insofar as it brings together honey and mint; it's also, according to Victoria from Sumac, what makes it Moroccan (honey and mint syrup cake is a popular dessert.) Here's something important I learned: the kind of honey and the kind of sugar you use will determine the taste and the hue of your lemonade. I used wildflower honey and an organic raw sugar that was slightly darker than turbinado. As you can see, this doesn't look like lemonade, really. It looks like it's been mixed with tea (which reminds me... I'm going to pick up some mead tonight at the market from Colony, and can't decide whether I want Mo-Me-Doh or Earle to mix with this lemonade.) I can assure you that it indeed tastes like lemonade, except with a more robust pronouncement of honey and the subtle presence of mint. Try it, either at the Wednesday market, or by making it yourself.
Moroccan Mint Lemonade
Yield: About 3 1/2 cups
- 1/4 cup honey
- Zest of two lemons
- 1/4 cup raw sugar (turbinado would work, I used darker stuff)
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups lemon juice
- 6-8 mint leaves
1. Quickly stir the sugar and lemon zest together in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat until the zest is evenly distributed and the sugar becomes fragrant. Add the honey and the water, stirring frequently until the sugar and honey completely dissolve.
2. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Crush the mint gently in your fingers to release some of its oils and add in 6-8 sprigs of mint, or to taste. Let it steep in the hot lemonade for 20-30 minutes at room temperature. Remove leaves and strain out the zest unless you don't mind the little extra pulp. Refrigerate.
3. When it's time to serve, add a few slices of lemon and a few mint leaves, if desired. And ice!
I promise you this doesn't taste like the average summertime lemonade, thanks to the dissolving of the sugars over heat and the steeping of the leaves while the whole thing is hot, like tea. You could probably leave the mint in the lemonade in the fridge if you want; I just didn't want the leaves to turn brown and potentially change the flavor of the lemonade, but it would probably be fine. I didn't have time, or enough lemons really, to try it both ways. Let me know if you do it that way. I also didn't want it to be too minty; I like the depth and complexity the honey and raw sugar impart.