Kiwi Pineapple & Lime Squash (Sharbat/Drink Mix)
Squashes are very popular in India. Don’t confuse the word “squash” with the vegetable. Squashes are pre-made drink mixes, made mostly using fruits, sometimes flowers (esp. rose) and nuts (almond, poppy seeds etc.). These are a combination of fruit juice/pulp and sugar, almost like juice concentrates that are available in the US. You make or buy squash bottles and keep them handy. The most popular flavors of sharbat in India are Rose, Mango, Orange (remember Rasna??), Khus (poppy seeds), Grapes and Pineapple. Then whenever you feel like a drink, just mix it up! Now if you are thinking that you’d rather buy a box of Tang and drink it, of course you can. I know, I love tang, especially the lemonade! But you will miss out on the fresh fruit flavors minus the preservatives and chemicals. Though a little time consuming, homemade squashes are extremely satisfying. Another good thing is that you may come up with your favorite fruit combinations!! But remember that tart fuits always make for the best sharbats. Think in the lines of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, lemon, lime, orange, blackberries, pineapple and of course mangoes! But the Mexican mangoes that are available in the US, do not have enough flavor, Indian mangoes rock!
This time I chose one of my personal favorites – Kiwi, Pineapple & Lime. And I was feeling very “green” with St.Patricks day on Saturday and thought this would be perfect. There’s one more reason behind this combination, I love Kiwi and Pineapple, but can’t eat them raw. They cause a strange stupid itch on the underside of my tongue that drives me crazy! But I absolutely adore these flavors and juice them up whenever I can.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you are making sharbat/squash:
- Use mineral water or filtered/boiled water to make squashes. Don’t use direct tap water. It may have bacteria and contaminants you do not know about and hence cannot treat them.
- Pick ripe, but not overripe fruits. They have the maximum flavor.
- Choose tart fruits, or pair your sweet fruits with tart ones and include lemon or limes.
- The general rule of thumb or proportions for a squash are 1 kilo fruit (or 1 liter concentrated juice) to 1 kilo of sugar. I used about 900 gms of fruit (2 pounds) and 800 gms of sugar, because any more sugar would have made it too sweet. You have to keep the squash slightly on the tart side so that when you dilute it with water the tartness does not disappear.
- The fruit flavors can get slightly subdued because of the cooking process, so it is a good idea to use a complementary essence/extract to bring up the flavors. Like pineapple extract in pineapple sharbat, orange in orange sharbat, rose extract in rose sharbat, etc. If you don’t have anything, citrus always works. Keep lemon or lime extracts handy. Or i’ll give you a nice tip here. Grate in the zest of the lemon or lime while boiling the fruits so all the flavor and essential oils will get into the boiling water. That’s what I did today and didn’t need to use extra flavoring.
- Preservatives: If you want to make squash that lasts for up to an year, you will have to use chemical preservatives. Potassium metabisulfate and/or sodium benzoate used in a combination with citric acid work best. If you are going to use up your squash within 1-3 months and always store them in the refrigerator, you don’t need to use the preservatives. The sugar, lime juice and citric acid act as natural preservatives. But if you are using the preservatives, you will have to wait for upto 10 days before using the squash. And during these 10 days remember to shake the bottles at least once everyday. If you have added the preservatives, you don’t have to store the squash in the refrigerator. I don’t know if citric acid is available in American grocery stores, but you can find it in all Indian groceries. It is a white crystalline substance.
- The following recipe is just one of the ways to make the sharbat. There are two alternatives. One is steaming the fruits and pureeing them and following the recipe given here. You may have to adjust the quantity of water and will end up with a very concentrated sharbat. Second one is juicing the fruits first, filtering and then cooking the juice with sugar. You can follow whichever one you like.
- Sterilize the bottles you plan to use beforehand. You should have the bottles ready so that you are able to pour in the hot juice. This is just about the only trick I follow. But if you want to store your squash for a long time, follow THIS link for detailed tips.
- The squashes can be used in so many ways. These will make fabulous toppings for ice creams, cereals or can be used as dessert sauces. Or a nice drizzle over your pancakes!
Yield – about 2 quarts (just less than 2 liters), 32 8 oz servings
Kiwi – 1 pound
Pineapple – 1 pound (measure after peeling)
Water – 2 cups
Lime Zest – from 3 large limes
Lime juice – 1/2 cup (from 3 large limes)
Sugar – 4 cups
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Water – 1 cup
Citric Acid – 1 Tbsp (dissolved in 2 Tbsp water)
Green food color – 6-8 drops (optional)
Pottasium Metabisulfate – 1/4 tsp
Sodium Bisulfate – 1/8 tsp
- Peel the kiwis and cut into quarters. Peel the pineapples and cut into 1 inch cubes.
- Combine the cut kiwi, pineapple and lime zest in a saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook until the fruits are fork tender. Then turn off the heat and cool slightly.
- Process the cooked fruits in a blender and then pass through a sieve lined with cheesecloth (or a thin cloth). Process the remaining pulp once again using some more water and then filter again. Discard the remaining pulp. This process should yield about 4-5 cups of juice.
- Meanwhile get the storage bottles ready. Sterilize them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Dry the bottles thoroughly and keep them ready. Wash the lids in hot but not boiling water.
- Combine the sugar and 1 cup water in another saucepan and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and comes to a boil. At this point add in the salt, citric acid and the filtered juice. Cook only for 1 minute and turn off the stove.
Note: If you are using the preservatives, dissolve the preservatives mentioned in 2 Tbsp of water and add it to the squash in the above step. But remember that if you are using preservatives, you may start using your squash only after 10 days. Store outside the refrigerator and shake each bottle at least once everyday.
- Using a funnel, transfer the hot juice into the sterilized bottles, filling the bottles almost full, but not quite. Leave about 1/2 inch space in the bottle. Immediately cover with the lids. Store in the refrigerator.
- To make a drink, combine 1/4 cup of squash with 3/4 cup of cold water and top with ice. This not hard-fast a rule, just give it a taste and adjust accordingly. For a special treat, use sparkling water/soda instead of regular water.