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COOLING trend : Refreshing, icy summer drinks, easily prepared with fruits and juices, soda, ginger ale or even ice cream, help chase away the scorching heat--and let you take advantage of the fruitful abundance of the season now available in Southland supermarket produce sections

June 04, 1987|BETSY BALSLEY | Times Food Editor

The marked trend toward lighter beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, becomes even more noticeable as the weather warms up. Sales of fruit-flavored bottled waters and wine coolers increase dramatically as thirsty consumers yearn for a chilly drink that will alleviate the heat. Refreshing as many of the fruit-flavored bottled spritzers, coolers and waters are, however, none can match the fresh, rich flavors to be found in homemade versions of these drinks that begin with the battery of summer fruits currently filling produce counters.

Certainly this is the time of year to indulge in personalized summer chillers. All it takes is a selection of favorite summer fruits, a well-chilled wine or ginger ale or plain soda, a few extra flavor enhancers and the willingness to put them all together to make a pleasing pick-me-up.

Half the fun of imbibing one of these liquid delights is designing it to your own specifications. Do as we did. Pick a couple of fruits you like, puree them in a blender, then try adding several different beverages to see which is most appealing. We found a sweet Muscat Alexandria wine blended beautifully with strawberries. Fresh pineapple and canned lychees tasted wonderful when a little rum was added before the combination was blended to an icy froth with ice cubes. Pureed mangoes that were blended with vanilla ice cream and tequila made a smashing cooler for a hot, sunny day by the pool.

If you prefer non-alcoholic drinks, pureed fruits will provide some extra zip for herbal ice teas, or try a delicious citrus-apple juice combination we found in the Sunkist Kitchens' new cookbook, "Cooking With Sunshine" (Atheneum: $24.95). Called Lemon Appleade, the recipe provides a basic mixture that is stored in the refrigerator. When you're thirsty, all you do is add water or club soda and some ice cubes to the base and you'll have a most refreshing beverage.

One of the recipes that follows calls for "orange melon," a type of melon with which you may not be familiar. It actually has been around for a number of years, but only recently has it become more popular. Until now it has been known as the orange honeydew or pink honeydew since the texture and taste of the melon are similar to that of the honeydew, although the pinkish-orange flesh is a far different color from the honeydew's delicate lime green flesh.

Orange Melon Not a Honeydew

Technically, however, according to the Fresh Produce Council's weekly newsletter, the orange melon isn't a honeydew and for that reason it doesn't have to conform to the California Department of Food and Agriculture's rules and regulations governing the production of honeydews. So the CDFA has decreed that the orange melon cannot be called a honeydew. In so doing they have created a bit of confusion for supermarket produce buyers and consumers because there doesn't seem to be any agreed-upon new name for the not-quite-honeydew melon.

So you may find it in your market still tagged as an orange-flesh honeydew or as an orange-flesh melon or simply as an orange melon. This is one of those times when your most reliable solution may be to simply ask your produce person which melon is the one you want.

Use the recipes that follow as guides to amounts and types of combinations that work well together. Then add a personal touch or two to suit your own taste. Try a bit of cinnamon here . . . a hint of mint there. Eventually you'll come up with a delicious cooling concoction that exactly suits your taste. And thereafter you'll have the perfect refreshing drink for those all-too-rare moments of relaxation.

ORANGE MELON WINE COOLER

2 cups white Gamay Beaujolais

1 cup orange melon puree

2 tablespoons sugar

Juice of 1/2 lime

Combine wine, melon puree, sugar and lime juice and blend well. Chill thoroughly, or serve over ice cubes. Makes 3 drinks.

KIWI COOLER

2 cups Chablis

3 very ripe kiwis, peeled and sieved

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon lime juice

Combine wine, kiwi puree, sugar and lime juice. Chill well or serve over ice cubes. Makes 3 drinks.

STRAWBERRY COOLER

2 cups Muscat Alexandria or other sweet white wine

2 cups strawberries

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 cup ice cubes

Combine wine and strawberries in blender and puree. Strain. Add sugar and lime juice to wine mixture and return to blender. Add ice cubes and blend until thick and frothy. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

PINEAPPLE-LYCHEE-RUM COOLER

4 cups chopped fresh pineapple

1 (20-ounce) can seeded lychees in syrup

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 to 1/3 cup light rum

2 cups ice cubes

Puree pineapple and lychees with syrup in blender. Add sugar and rum and blend well. Blend half of pineapple mixture with 1 cup ice cubes until frothy. Repeat with remaining pineapple mixture and ice cubes. Serve at once. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

MANGO COOLER

3 mangoes, peeled, seeded and pureed

1/2 pint vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup tequila

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups ice cubes

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