Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sparkling Cherry Limeade

Sparkling Cherry Limeade

With Memorial Day behind us we are officially in summer territory, right? We can wear white now and all that stuff? If so, then it is most definitely limeade season.

Back when I was a kid my dad made my brother and I take tennis lessons from his friend Steve. Steve was a grown man—a friend of my father's from high school—who still lived at home with his mom and may have been good at tennis—I honestly don't remember, I just think my dad felt sorry for the guy.

Dad was always looking for things for my brother and I to do during the summer and hired Steve to teach us tennis. My brother was very good at tennis, an athletic sort of person, he was good at all sports. I, on the other hand, was not. I hated going to these stupid lessons, where I stood out there in the blazing sun, sweating, and swinging my racket, hoping the ball would miraculously make contact.

The silver lining to this whole scenario was that my grandmother, God love her, would always show up with a thermos full of ice cold limeade. I'd pathetically slump down on the park bench next to the tennis court, she'd hand me a glass of limeade and all was right with the world....well, kind of.

Sparkling Cherry Limeade

Grandma's limeade was always made from concentrate—she was of the generation that firmly believed everything was better from a can—but making it from fresh squeezed limes is the bee's knees. This being cherry season and all I can't stop there, making a simple cherry syrup to sweeten up the tart limes makes an utterly refreshing combination, especially when you add some fizzy, bubbling, cold club soda.

I'm loving this cherry syrup because it seeps all the flavor out of the cherries without all the work. Forget the cherry pitter, spewing juice on you with every punch. You just combine the cherries, whole, pits and all, with the sugar and mash them with a potato masher over a low heat on the stove top. After the cherries are basically mush, you run the whole shebang through a sieve, pushing the sweet juice out and leaving all the pits behind.

Sparkling Cherry Limeade
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Makes 4-6 servings

1 pound cherries (about 3 cups), stemmed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 cups cold club soda
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 8 limes
1 lime, thinly sliced
ice

Combine cherries (pits and all) and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to coat the cherries in sugar than use a potato masher to squash the cherries and release their juice (this will be easier to do once they warm up a little bit).

Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Keep at a simmer, adjusting heat as necessary, and cook until cherries are soft and start to break down, about 15 minutes.

Set a strainer over a bowl and pour cherry mixture into the strainer. Press down on the solids until all the juice has gone through the strainer. Discard solids and chill syrup until ready to use.

When ready to serve, combine soda, lime juice, and syrup in a large pitcher. Stir gently to combine. Fill pitcher with ice and stir in lime slices. Taste and add more lime juice if it is too sweet. Serve immediately in ice filled glasses.

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