Here was the experiment: Watermelon is a favorite dessert for barbecues and Fourth of July picnics. But how to spice up the traditional watermelon and make it something more interesting? A common suggestion is to infuse it with a bottle of vodka, by allowing the vodka to soak into the watermelon over an extended period of time. (Watch this video for a good demonstration.)
I wanted to infuse my watermelon with more than just vodka. I also wondered if I could speed up the soaking process (which can take multiple days for full absorption) by using a heavy-duty syringe. I got a large “flavor-injector” syringe from my local kitchen-supply store. Then I combined rum and mint-infused lime juice to make a mojito mixer.
I sucked up some mixer, inserted the needle into the watermelon, and started squeezing. I almost instantly ran into trouble. Half-way through my first injection, rum and lime juice started leaking out of the hole. I stabbed another part of the watermelon and tried again, this time more slowly. I wasn’t any more successful.
Soon, with multiple holes in my watermelon, the problem became worse. Injecting liquid into one part of the melon just made it flow out somewhere else, like a geyser. I had quickly determined that taking a shortcut and going the speedy route wouldn’t work. There is no replacement for time and slow absorption.
Slicing the watermelon open yielded another problem with going the forced absorption route: The interior of the fruit had started to break down to absorb the additional liquid (those slits in the photo aren’t needle holes). That meant the crunchy watermelon texture we all know and love had been compromised. The fruit had turned rubbery.
It was time to quit my experiment. My kitchen counter was a sticky mess and my clever alcohol infusion plan had failed. I didn’t want to abandon a bottle of perfectly good rum. I blended some of the watermelon, then mixed it with the lime and rum mixture.
It may have been a traditional blended drink, but it was delicious.
- 4-6 cups blended watermelon (about 4-6 pounds of whole watermelon)
- 1 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 bunch (about 2 cups, lightly packed) mint leaves
- 750ml bottle white rum
Step 1. Combine the lime juice, sugar and mint leaves (stripped from their stems) in a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn off the heat, letting the mint leaves steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 2. Strain the lime juice into a blender, pressing on the mint leaves to extract all of the juice. With the blender running, add slices of watermelon one at a time. This works much better than blending the watermelon all at once and having the blades spin and jam. Remember, when mixed with the rum, more watermelon means a weaker drink. (Shoot for a range between 5 to 7 cups of liquid; that’s 1 cup lime juice plus 4 to 6 cups watermelon puree.)
Step 3. In a large pitcher, combine the bottle of rum and the watermelon and lime puree. Stir thoroughly. Chill in the fridge, then stir again before serving. Serve in rocks glasses with a slice of lime and a cube of watermelon.