Wednesday, 29 October 2014

First sip. Melon Seed Sherbet.

Harem Scene by Quintana Blas Olleras (1851-1919)

The word sherbet brings two images to my mind. The first, as a child of the Midlands in the 1960s, is of a yellow tube filled with fizzing powder that could be sucked up a liquorice straw. If you lived in the Midlands in the 60s you'll know that this was about as exciting as life got, especially when the dust went up the nose and made us sneeze and wheeze. 


The second image is of well-padded Ottoman ladies lounging on plump cushions sipping pastel liquids from engraved glasses. I have yet to find a recipe for Sherbet Fountains  so it is the latter I'm writing about today. 
After tasty lunch of green beans and kale in Gambilya restaurant on Monday, our Turkish coffee was accompanied by a small glass of an opaque, slightly pink liquid. In its gold etched glass, it looked just the accoutrement for a silk-draped lady of a bygone era.  I usually pride myself on recognising ingredients but I had no idea what I was drinking.  At the risk of sounding like the worst wine bore, its subtle taste had a whiff of vanilla and an essence of reclining under a honeysuckle vine on a sunny day. It was quite impossible to pinpoint the flavour.  We had to ask Lale what it was and the answer was a surprise - melon seed drink. 




I've mentioned Lale's drinks before in Mulberry and Purple basil cordial at Gambilya and she is very good at sourcing traditional recipes.  This one was brought to Turkey by Jews fleeing Spain and is still a popular drink in Spanish speaking countries.  It's simple to make and, with the growing popularity of seed and nut milks, I'm surprised that I haven't come across it before. 

Wash the seeds of a cantaloup or yellow melon.  
Dry the seeds in the sun for 24 hours 
Grind or liquidize the seeds with two glasses of unchlorinated water 
Leave for 24 hours until the liquid thickens and goes milky in colour 
Strain and squeeze through muslin, sweeten if desired and drink chilled. 

Some recipes suggest boiling the seeds in the water for 5 minutes, but I'm sure the drink is more nutritious unheated.  In some of the Spanish or Mexican recipes, melon juice or lime juice is added, but I think this would mask the delicate flavour.  I haven't made it myself yet but will definitely be coming back from Sunday's market with two large melons.  




22 comments:

  1. . . and it saves having all those melon seedlings sprouting in J's compost bins!

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    1. Do the seeding grow into melons though?

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  2. Very interesting, never had one and now I'd love to have one !:)

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who hasn't tried it.

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  3. Melons now on the shopping list.

    I remember sherbet dabs all too well.....

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    1. Thank you Helen, I knew we called them something other than fountains.

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  4. Dear Annie, I so enjoy your posts whenever I have the opportunity to read them, but I especially like the ones you do about archeology and the ones about food. The foods and the drink you have in Turkey differ so from the menus here in the United States. The Turkish culture's cuisine is much more adventuresome and I find that so appealing. Peace.

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    1. You have plenty of melons in your part of the world, give this recipe a go and let me know how you got on.

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  5. Two large melons.......I best not tell Dave about this post - he'll come out with all kinds of corny references to Kenneth Williams and Carry On gags!!! Liquorice is a bit like marmite - you either love or hate it - we were talking about Sherbert Fountains in work last week. I loved the powder - hated the liquorice!

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    1. I had Dave's expected comment in mind when I wrote it. Save the liquorice for me. I could probably eat it dipped in marmite.

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  6. B to B, How very interesting that this drink was brought to Turkey by the Sephardic Jews. I'll pass a link to our friend who came to Turkey last year to study such recipes with the aim of publishing a book in the U.S. It sounds delightful.

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    1. I will have a quick look at at blog and see if it is already there.

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  7. My sherbet came at the bottom of a lucky bag. Ah, memories of a bygone era!

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  8. Oh my, this sounds wonderful - and I love your description! I haven't come across it here in Andalucia but I shall start asking around as to what it might be called and where I might find it locally. It sounds really wonderful. Sorry to have been an absent friend recently but I really don't know where time is going - good to read your lovely words again. Axxx

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    1. Nope, haven't come across it but I bet it's around somewhere. Horcata is usually made out of tiger nuts - I'll look for a recipe and see it can adapt it! I'll let you know. Axxx

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    2. Ignore that last one - you have of course, provided the recipe!! Axxx

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  10. What a delicious-sounding drink. I'll have to try it. I used to love sherbet fountains, being very partial to liquorice too.

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