No matter what you call them — ICEEs, Slurpees or slushies — frozen fruit drinks are one of the best ways to quench your thirst on a hot day. This is especially true if you’re a kid. But what do you do if you’re a mom and aren’t particularly fond of the idea of your kids gulping down frozen high-fructose corn syrup beverages all summer? Make your own, of course.
My foray into homemade slushies has been fairly recent. When my kids became old enough to realize what a slushie was, I was only too happy to take them to our local mini mart to indulge. After all, I spent my childhood riding my bike through cow pastures so I could purchase my own Slurpees from 7-11. During the age of sugar innocence — up til about age 8 by my calculations — my daughters accepted the occasional ICEE as a little chance gift. It wasn’t until last summer that they started begging for these drinks each time we drove through town, and I was relieved when the machine broke down for a while.
It finally occurred to me only this year that I could actually make my own slushies out of fresh seasonal fruit. Although I know some people use Italian soda syrups to make similar concoctions, I wanted my slushies to actually have something worth ingesting in them. So after purchasing an overly large watermelon recently, I decided to experiment with it. The recipe I used is similar to watermelon granita, except unlike that delicacy, my watermelon slushie is not frozen through. Rather I simply freeze the drink in my ice cream maker until the consistency is icy and similar to that of a slushie, and then pour and serve immediately.
Now let’s be honest here. Kids aren’t stupid, and when mine were faced with a homemade slushie instead of their favorite ICEE they were skeptical about how it would taste and a little irritated that I was trying to dress up frozen fresh fruit as a summer treat. But once I put the concoction in a fun glass with a straw, the complaining ceased as they quickly finished off their slushies. Will they beg for an ICEE the next time we’re at the local market? Sure. But were they happy with the watermelon slushies I made? Absolutely. Plus I could eat two and not feel guilty.
Recipe: Watermelon Slushies
A frozen beverage made with fresh watermelon
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 cups
5 cups hulled and cubed seedless watermelon*
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 juicy lime (or two semi-juicy limes)
* You can also just remove the seeds from a regular watermelon.
1. Heat sugar and water in a pot and simmer for 5 minutes or until the consistency of maple syrup. Let cool.
2. Place watermelon in a food processor (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size or your container). Pulse until smooth.
3. Place watermelon liquid into a bowl and add in the cooled simple syrup and lime juice. Stir.
4. Set frozen ice cream-maker containers into your ice cream machine and then pour the watermelon mixture into them (you’ll need to process only half at a time if your ice-cream machine has only one container). According to your ice-cream maker’s directions, process for about 10 minutes or until thick. You may need to stir about halfway through.
5. Place in fun cups with straws and serve to unconvinced children.
6. Smile when they exclaim that it’s delicious and then feel smug.
Note: If you want something a little more grown up, just pop the mixture into a container and then place in a freezer until solid. After that you flake with a fork to fashion a granita.