My favorite booth was one that is run by two women who not only grow vegetables, but also save heirloom tomato seeds. I bought several varieties of seeds from them which I will store for next year’s garden. SO EXCITED.
John and I were polarized by the boiled peanut booth (I was raised on boiled peanuts) and could hardly wait to get our hands on a cup of those heavenly creations, but in the meantime Tricia and Tim had moseyed next door to the next booth. As the sweat rolled down the back of my neck I looked up and saw Tricia sacheting back with what looked to be the most refreshing drink I had ever seen. I nearly dropped my cup of boiled peanuts in the franticness of demanding to know what she was drinking. “Limeade with mint”, she said. And then as she saw the calculating glint in my eyes, she protectively held the limeade closer to her, then quickly pointed and said, “Go get one right there.”
The booth was a flurry of activity with each of the six or seven workers busily carrying out their assigned contributions to the production of the limeade. I hurried over to the booth and only once I was there did I noticed that there was a LINE…extending straight back to the boiled peanut booth from which I had just come. A variety of embarrassing, irritated, perturbed thoughts flashed through my mind, but I just put on my “Oh-I-was-just-checking-things-out-to-see-if-they-were-worth-further-attention” look and casually sauntered back to stand in line.
All that I can say is that the minted limeade was worth the wait. I watched as the smiling, confident young man behind the counter with long flowing hair shook each drink in a Mason jar, then adroitly filled the clear plastic cups. “I want to shake that jar and pour my own drink”, I thought to myself. “I want to do that right now and plop a straw in the jar and sit in the shade and stare at the sea of humanity which has turned out for the farmer’s market on a bright, sunny Saturday in July.” As I reached for my clear plastic cup I could see two spent lime halves, perfectly bruised mint leaves, hospital-style crushed ice (the best kind of crushed ice), and raw sugar which had settled on the bottom.
Even after the limeade was gone, the mint and lime halves gave a wonderful flavor to the water from the melting ice. It was a nice little bonus.
The recipe that I am using for this limeade is not particularly original, however the presentation makes it especially fun. There is something about drinking out of a Mason jar with a straw that makes me feel happy and care-free. Plus seeing the lime and the mint leaves hanging out with the crushed ice makes a great visual.
In the following recipe I departed from the use of the raw sugar in the bottom of the glass. Although I truly enjoyed the taste of the sugar, I did not like the feel of the granules in my mouth because I found them to have a ‘sandy’ feel. True, they were sweet and I could crunch them, which was not altogether unpleasant, but overall I did not like the feel and wished for a smooth drink. You may not feel the same way, so feel free to toss raw sugar granules in the bottom of your glass. If you choose to use the sugar granules, you may want to decrease the sugar in the simple syrup to avoid an overly sweet product.
This makes about 3 1/2 quarts limeade
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (this can take anywhere between 6-9 limes–save the lime halves)
- 10 cups water
- mint leaves (about 3 per pint jar)
- lime halves, count on 1-2 per pint jar
- Simple syrup: In a medium-sized saucepot, mix together the 2 cups water and the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar has melted. Cool.
- While the simple syrup is cooling, prepare the lime juice. Wash the limes with a little dish soap and water to sanitize them. Rinse well. Cut the limes crosswise and extract the juice using a reamer or citrus juicer. Be sure to save the lime halves to add to individual serving glasses or jars.
- Add the lime juice to the simple syrup; stir to combine. This is the limeade concentrate.
- The limeade concentrate is mixed with water in a 2:1 ratio–2 cups of water per 1 cup of concentrate. Store any left-over concentrate in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for future use. Reconstituted, the full measure of concentrate will make approximately 3 1/2 quarts of limeade.
- For individual serving: In a pint jar, put 3 mint leaves and 1-2 lime halves in the bottom of the jar. Fill the jar to within about 1/2-inch of the top with crushed ice or small ice cubes. (Note: For those with a Sonic Drive-In in their area–Sonic Drive-ins sell bags of their crushed ice very inexpensively.) Pour the limeade over the ice until it is even with the top of the ice. Put a tight-fitting lid on the jar and shake. The movement of the ice across the mint leaves and the limes will release additional flavor into the jar of limeade. Remove lid and serve.
- Optional preparation: The limeade can also be prepared by steeping several sprigs of fresh mint in the limeade concentrate while it cools. Remove the mint leaves, then reconstitute the limeade in the normal proportion of 2 cups water to 1 cup limeade (or 10 cups water for the full amount of limeade concentrate). For serving, simply add a couple of lime wedges to each glass, fill the glass with ice, then pour the limeade over the ice.