Bubbling with Sweetness

Thank goodness the melons are in season. Come summer, they become a major food group for my daughter — she and her best friend can devour a whole cantaloupe in one sitting. For once, I can’t argue. It is a fruit, after all. Not only…

Bubbling with Sweetness

Cantaloupe-JuiceThank goodness the melons are in season. Come summer, they become a major food group for my daughter — she and her best friend can devour a whole cantaloupe in one sitting. For once, I can’t argue. It is a fruit, after all. Not only is it low calorie, but it’s packed with Vitamins A and C, as well as potassium.

I have two distinct childhood memories of cantaloupes. One is learning from my mother how to pick the perfect melon. It wasn’t by weight or size or by tapping on the rind. She taught me that the way to make sure a cantaloupe is ripe is by examining the indentation left by the stem. It should look like an innie belly button – the deeper the indentation, the better.

My other memory of cantaloupes is of the sweet Cantaloupe Juice my family would make for our summer barbeque parties. I would use my mom’s nifty melon scraper — shaped like a fan, this unique tool leaves you with perfect shreds of melon. I used to think that every household had a melon scraper until I realized that my local Sur la Table had never even heard of one.

We go through cantaloupes so quickly, I never get a chance to make this sweet drink, but with the temperatures slowly rising and the cantaloupes abundant, I was determined to make it. The warm 80 degree weather yesterday was a perfect day to enjoy this refreshing drink.

As I was shredding the cantaloupe, I remembered that the kids have been asking for Bubble Tea. In case you’ve never heard of it, Bubble Tea, or Boba (or Sago in the Philippines), is said to have originated in Taiwan, and are very popular beverages throughout Asia. You can easily find bubble tea shops in your local Chinatown, and these days, you can find them most anywhere in the country. Bubble Teas may be tea-based mixed with juices or even served as blender drinks. There are many variations, but I prefer the fruit-flavored teas. The key ingredient is sweetened tapioca balls (pearls), that are delightfully chewy and take on the flavor of the tea or juice. If you have yet to try Bubble Tea, I recommend finding a place that makes their juices fresh – some shops use a powdered base that is just not the same!

I decided to make two versions of the melon juice: Classic Cantaloupe Juice and Cantaloupe Bubble Tea.


Cantaloupe Juice or Bubble Tea

Classic Cantaloupe Juice

  • 1 ripe cantaloupe, halved with seeds removed
  • simple syrup (recipe follows), to taste
  • ice

Using a melon scraper, shred the cantaloupe into long strips, taking care to reserve any juice. Put melon strips and juice into a pitcher with lots of ice, and flavor to taste with your simple syrup. As you adjust the flavor, you can always add water if it is too sweet. Serve cold.

Cantaloupe Bubble Tea

  • tapioca pearls, your favorite variety (I used the quick 5 minute kind by WuFuYuan)
  • tea, your favorite (optional)
  • 1 ripe cantaloupe, halved with seeds removed
  • simple syrup (recipe follows), to taste (or agave nectar)
  • ice

Prepare the tapioca pearls by placing them in a large pot of boiling water (roughly 10 cups of water per cup of tapioca pearls). When ready, retrieve pearls with a slotted spoon, place in bowl, and cover with simple syrup or agave nectar. Let it sit for a moment while you prepare the juice.

Version 1: Juice*

  • Follow directions for Classic Cantaloupe Juice and add tapioca pearls. If you like, add two tablespoons of your favorite green tea.

Version 2: Blended

  • Place cubes of cantaloupe, reserved juice, simple syrup, tea, and ice in a blender. When smooth, add tapioca pearls.

*In case you were wondering, this is how I prefer my bubble tea!

Simple Syrup

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sugar dissolves, about 3-4 minutes. Cool completely.

Comments

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    • Liren

      The gadget is definitely unique, isn’t it? It really makes this drink special.

      Reply
  1. norma

    Liren:
    I ordered 5 melon scrapers. One for me and the others fo my friends. When I used the side to get the long strips it did not work out and I ruined most of the melon. What am I doing wrong. Was the melon too ripe. Please advise. I am a such a gadget nut and it drives me crazy when I cannot make it work.

    Thanks
    Norma

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Norma, Thanks for letting me know! So, when I made this, I used a different scraper – an older one that is in the family. But I did order one from this vendor and it’s here in my drawer, haven’t tried it out yet. I will get a melon over the weekend and test. It could be that the melon was too ripe, that is certainly a possibility. Sorry about this! I’ll let you know what happens with mine.

      Reply
  2. Tracey@TangledNoodle

    I love canteloupe drink and used to make it quite often, though never with sago – what a great idea (the colorful ones are so cute!) I second Caronline’s suggestion of not throwing away the pulp and seeds; instead, put it in a strainer and run cold water through it slowly while pressing down with a spoon. Oh, now I feel the urge to buy a melon . . . !

    Reply
    • Liren

      So interesting! Ok, I can’t wait to make another batch to try this out!

      Reply
  3. CarolineAdobo

    Do you ever put the seeds and membrane in the strainer and pour water through it? My sister’s tip, results in a more flavorful melon juice. :) Though I never knew about your mom’s tip about the innie so thanks for sharing. Now I’m off to find me a melon scraper!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Caroline! No – never did that with the seeds and membrane, but I will now! What a great tip, thank you :)

      Reply
  4. norma

    Oh! the bubble teas is just beautiful….never had it….. I just ordered the tool. I am a gadget freak.

    Reply
    • Liren

      LOL, enjoy the tool! I’m a gadget freak, too :) But this really is special. I’ve tried using lemon zesters before, and it’s absolutely not the same.

      Reply
  5. The Housewife

    I love boba teas and this one sounds so amazing! I loved reading about your childhood summers… great post!

    Reply
  6. Baking Barrister

    Oh I never really thought about making juice! We have 5 cantaloupes in the house right now.

    Now, I was always taught to pick a cantaloupe by smell and sight. If you sniff a ripe melon it will have the great cantaloupe aroma. If it’s a mild smell or just smells like rind, it isn’t ripe. To help pick the ones to smell, the ones with the light light green or pale yellow between the patches are more likely to be ripe. If it has a lot of the dark green, it was picked too early.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Ah, interesting way to pick a cantaloupe! Now I’ll have to compare my method with your observations and see if it holds true! Cool :)

      Reply
  7. Jean

    Thanks for the tip on determining melon-ripeness. I have to depend on my husband to tell me. :-)

    Isn’t this one of the best refreshments for summer? It’s one of the things I look forward to having whenever I visit my parents. I can almost taste it now…

    Reply
    • Liren

      You’re welcome for the tip! I wonder how your husband determines ripeness (you’ll have to compare notes!).

      Reply
    • Liren

      Funny you should mention honeydew….of all the flavors in the world, honeydew bubble tea is my brother’s absolute, HANDS DOWN, favorite flavor. Really and truly. Just substitute honeydew and you’ll have an amazing bubble tea!

      Reply
  8. denise @ quickies on the dinner table

    I’d like one of each please!!!

    I never thought to make my own pearl drink as I have two bubble tea shops just a 5 minute walk away from my apartment, but it’s great to know I now have a recipe for it, if I want to :) Everything looks gorgeous and so wonderfully refreshing. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Lucky! Wish I had bubble tea shops within walking distance! As it is, the one closest to me uses the powder mix, which I loathe, so I’ll be making it at home instead :)

      Reply
  9. Isabelle

    Cantaloupe juice is so refreshing on a hot day… sometimes I add a little chopped mint to the mix, just for a little extra freshness. I’ve never thought to make it into bubble tea, but that sounds like a really great idea.
    Also, I’d never seen a melon scraper before, but now that I know such a thing exists, I must have one! Thanks for introducing me to such a cool gadget.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Ah love the mint! Great idea! And I’m happy to share the melon scraper; it’s a wonderful tool!

      Reply
    • Liren

      I’m glad you stopped by! I love bubble tea, too :) I think I’ll be making it more often this summer.

      Reply
    • Liren

      Boba straws make the at home bubble tea experience more fun, but it’s not required! If you don’t have a chance to find them at your local Asian market, just dig in with a spoon!
      Boba Straws

      Reply
  10. Joy

    I love love love love love this drink. I have so many fond memories having this as a kid. I just can’t seem to cook the tapioca right. I always mess it up.

    Reply
    • Liren

      I remember tapioca being so tricky, but I have to say, this brand I used this time was very nice. And quick, too!

      Reply
    • Liren

      You’re welcome! The tool really is fun to use – it’s a shame not all cookware stores carry it!

      Reply
  11. Julie Gardner

    Thanks for posting the melon bubble tea recipe!!! :D My kids are avid cantaloupe eaters too!

    Reply
    • Liren

      You’re so welcome, Julie! Hope you guys have fun making it!

      Reply
    • Liren

      Hope my mom’s cantaloupe tip helps! Have you ever tried bubble tea…it may seem odd, but I assure you, it’s so good (when done right!).

      Reply
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