It’s hard to justify buying a giant watermelon every week when our kitchen is overflowing with tropical fruit from our own backyard, but I don’t care. I crave watermelon. We devour it by the bowlful, ice-cold from the fridge. I chase after the best one of the year. This summer it’s luck of the draw since I do curbside pickup for groceries. Last week’s watermelon was amazing; this week’s is so-so. If I’m picking my own, I think the most reliable way to judge them is by looking at the “field spot,” the place where it was resting on the ground as it grew. The more yellow it is, the better. Do you prefer thumping them? Tell me your tricks in the comments below.I’ve been saving a bit of each watermelon for popsicles. They’re a balm in the late afternoon heat of these long summer days. Sweet, refreshing, and nostalgic. The only thing that could make them better is to make them double as your favorite porch cocktail. No one needs an excuse to spike anything these days. Go for it. Add a little booze (not too much or they won’t freeze), and enjoy an adult beverage in popsicle form. Buy the kids some of those rainbow colored tube pops so there’s no confusion.I’m pretty sure I had a mojito popsicle in the Azores. I couldn’t decipher the Portuguese label, but it tasted like rum and there were little bits of whole lime and mint throughout. It was delightful. I’ve searched for these online and I’ve never seen anything like them again. Maybe it was a dream.Here is my best rendition of that dreamy pop. It has those little bits of whole lime, some mint leaves, and watermelon for an added layer of fruity refreshment. I start with a lime simple syrup, so all those bits of lime are actually candied. Then I blend watermelon, fresh lime juice, and white rum. Strain the simple syrup into that mix, then pour into your pop mold (I use this one, but here are some DIY). Tuck in bits of lime and mint leaves using a skewer, so you get just the right amount, equally spaced around each popsicle. Freeze them. To release, I find the best method is to warm the outside of an individual pop with your hands, then carefully lift out that pop. Warm water melts them all at once too quickly, and room temperature often does the same.
Enjoy a moment of zen.
Watermelon Mojito Popsicles
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1-2 tablespoons pieces of whole lime (ideally key lime)
2 1/2 cups watermelon chunks
1/4 cup white rum
juice of 1 (key) lime
handful of mint leaves
In a small pot, bring the water, sugar, and lime pieces to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour into a measuring cup and allow to cool completely.
Strain the simple syrup into the jar of a blender and reserve the lime pieces for later. Add the watermelon chunks, rum, and lime juice. Blend until smooth.
Pour into popsicle molds. Tuck in the reserved lime pieces and mint leaves using a skewer, however much you’d like.
Freeze for at least 6 hours.
Photographing them on a hot summer day, not so zen.