Melon Heaven: Melon Seed and Lime Horchata

August is usually tinted melon for me. Inspired by the heady perfume of ripe melons at the market, I rediscover the sultry beauty of Frédéric Malle Le Parfum de Thérèse and Parfums DelRae Emotionnelle. On sunny mornings that promise to turn into steamy days, I create my own versions of Сhandlеr Вurr’s “scent dinners.” Except that mine are usually breakfasts and I skip the lecturing part. I cut ripe cantaloupe into medium cubes and mix it with thick Greek yogurt. A drizzle of honey (or a splash of rosewater, depending on my mood), and it’s ready. Perfumed with Hermès Un Jardin Après La Mousson–a melon and rose perfume, I’m too ready to start my day.

When Brussels unexpectedly turned steamy–here it means a mere 80F, I discovered that without the air conditioning, even this relatively comfortable temperature can turn an apartment with large windows and transparent blinds into a sauna. Working from home, all I could do was to wear a bikini top and a thick layer of sunscreen. The other solution to staying cool was to drink horchata. True to my summer theme, I made a melon flavored  variation.

Horchata is a Spanish drink made with starchy chufa or tiger nuts. Creamy and sweet, it’s nevertheless refreshing on hot summer days. The New World adaptations of horchata use more readily available ingredients–rice, almonds and other nuts. When I discovered the melon seed variation at a Mexican friend’s dinner party, I immediately wanted the recipe. The orange hued drink had a heady perfume of summer–musky, tart, with a faint jasmine note. At first, it tasted zesty and bright, but the lingering almond sweetness gave it richness. “That’s just nothing,” laughed Laura seeing the surprised look on my face. “Just water, melon seeds and lime juice.”

Getting a delicious and fragrant drink out of something that normally is thrown away appeals to my thrifty side. But I will tell you that I sometimes buy melons just to make horchata de melón. It’s an instant refreshment, and its perfume of summer in the glass is simply irresistible. Cantaloupes and honeydews have such a strong fragrance that even when you use only the seeds, you get the full spectrum of the melon aroma. The seeds themselves have a green almond flavor, which is mild and delicately sweet. An addition of citrus juice is essential to create a bouquet worthy of being bottled–the tartness enhances the luscious sweetness of fruit, while the peppery lime note gives the drink more complexity.

Melon and Lime Horchata (Horchata de Melón)

Serves 2

Seeds of 1 small melon (about 1/2 cup)

2 cups water

2 Tablespoons lime juice

2 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste

Mint leaves and ice cubes for serving (optional)

Cut open the melon and scoop out the seeds and the juicy pulp clinging to them. Add seeds, water and sugar into a blender and pulse 6-8 times, or until smooth. Add lime juice. Depending on the melon, you might need to add more sugar or more lime juice to achieve a pleasant sweet and tart flavor. Chill in the refrigerator (at least 30 minutes or overnight), strain through a fine mesh sieve and serve.

Enjoy!

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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44 Comments

  • Lucas: I don’t know how could that be that you know so many interesting and innovative (for me) recipes for food, drinks etc.
    Awesome! August 9, 2012 at 7:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I love trying different combinations and to experiment with flavors. Not everything turns out perfectly all the time, of course, but whenever it does, I enjoy sharing with all of you here. This drink is just wonderful. I bought another melon earlier today, so I’m going to make another batch. August 9, 2012 at 8:02am Reply

      • Lucas: I think it’s great that you have such a hobby.
        I am not a really great cook. I can prepare some meal and have my signature lemon cake but that’s all. Sometimes I try to come up with a new, “adventurous” dinner.

        I rarely have time to cook. During the university years I lived 2 years in a rented room with other students and then my Mum prepared my meals to take them to Poznan from home. I only had to make them hot and ready to eat.

        During the last university year I didn’t find a new room in a student’s apartment so I started commuting between my hometown and Poznan. During that time I sometimes had dinners in university canteen but I had no dinner like 3 days a week because I return home really late August 9, 2012 at 1:30pm Reply

        • Victoria: I enjoy it very much. I grew up in the family where we cooked every single day. My mom was a working woman, but she had her repertoire of quick and delicious dishes. On the weekends she would do something more involved. When I started living on my own, I kind of followed her lead. On most days it takes less time for me and my husband to make a meal than to go out to eat. We’ve adapted. When I have more time, I make more complicated dishes. But on the weekdays, it’s usually something simple. Today we had pasta with spinach sauce and warm mushroom salad. The whole thing took me 20 minutes to make, from start to finish.

          I sympathize, Lucas! At one point, I used to commute 2hours each way. It was very hard. August 9, 2012 at 3:54pm Reply

  • Barbara: The colors in these photos are sunny and summery. You betcha I’ll be making this recipe this weekend. I tried your basil drink a week ago and it was very good. My daughter and I made it with regular basil, so it wasn’t pink like yours. But we added some strawberry juice to jazz up the color. August 9, 2012 at 8:46am Reply

    • Victoria: The combination of basil and strawberry sounds wonderful, Barbara. I make that drink with regular basil too, and although I agree that you don’t get the bright pink color, the flavor is great. Plus, your coloring fix is terrific. August 9, 2012 at 9:29am Reply

  • Radhika: Looks tasty!

    In India we make milk shakes with melon seeds, pistachios and cardamom. If you like, I can get you my mom’s recipe. August 9, 2012 at 9:04am Reply

    • Victoria: Radhika, of course! I would love your mom’s recipe. Thank you very much for your offer. August 9, 2012 at 9:30am Reply

      • Radhika: My pleasure! I’ll write it down later for you. :) August 9, 2012 at 9:57am Reply

        • Radhika: I just need to convert my mom’s weird measures like half a wati or one boxful. :) August 9, 2012 at 9:58am Reply

          • Victoria: Sounds like grandmother’s measurements! :) August 9, 2012 at 10:28am Reply

  • rosarita: Oh, I am making this today! I love horchata. When I lived in TX the restaurant I worked at made the thick, dessert like version, which is of course delicious, but my favorite Mexican restaurant here (tiny hole in the wall) has a more watery, lighter type. I prefer the latter as it’s more refreshing. Your version sounds really delightful :) August 9, 2012 at 9:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Please let me know what you think! Some melons are so sweet that they require almost no sugar, while others need more than I suggested.
      I also have a recipe for a rice based horchata, which is likewise light and watery, but it tastes wonderful. The flavor of rice and cinnamon creates an almond like effect. August 9, 2012 at 9:34am Reply

      • Radhika: Interesting! Do you cook rice? How do you make it? August 9, 2012 at 9:57am Reply

        • Victoria: I have one recipe calls for the raw rice. You soak it in water overnight and then blend it with water, sugar and some cinnamon. It gets strained and chilled. But the one I make more often calls for cooking the mixture. It’s almost identical to this one:
          http://allrecipes.com/recipe/horchata-cinnamon-rice-milk/ August 9, 2012 at 10:30am Reply

  • smellslikeroses: “Except that mine are usually breakfasts and I skip the lecturing part.” LOL! A fun way to start your day. Perfumewise, I used to be scared of melon notes until I tried Jardin apres la Mousson. I smell some melon in it, but it’s so good. Not like that monster melon of Issey Miyake. August 9, 2012 at 10:06am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m not a morning person at all, so a right start to my day is essential, or else I don’t feel awake until midday. So, I use my little tricks.

      I don’t mind Issey Miyake, but my favorite melon notes in perfume aren’t nearly as bold and sharp. Un Jardin Apres la Mousson is what I turn to whenever I want something uplifting and surprising. The way cardamom weaves in and out of the composition never fails to please me. August 9, 2012 at 10:32am Reply

      • smellslikeroses: Aha! It’s the cardamom+melon bit that I like the most. August 9, 2012 at 1:17pm Reply

  • Eric: Hello Victoria! Hope that you’re having a great summer. Your mention of your own “scent breakfast” reminded me that I always wanted to attend one of CB’s scent dinners but they were priced out of my budget. What do you think about them? August 9, 2012 at 11:02am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve never attended for the same reason as you–too expensive. But these dinners sound interesting. I’ve attended only one scent dinner event (organized not by CB, but through my work), and while I enjoyed it, I found that by smelling a perfume and then eating something with a similar note, you don’t really get a heightened flavor experience. It’s simply enjoyable and fun as long as the food is good. August 9, 2012 at 11:28am Reply

  • Zubi d’Nova / Melissa de Blok: Strangely enough this is making me crave Faluda (don’t know if you know it)…. I think it’s the whole talk of cooling and sweet goodies specially made for summer.

    Must try your recipe! August 9, 2012 at 11:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve tried faluda a few times, and my favorite was a combination of rose ice cream, these transparent faluda noodles, rose syrup, basil seeds and lots of clotted cream on top. I could finish only 1/4 of it, because it was so rich, but it was heavenly. But there are probably lots of different recipes for this summer treat. August 9, 2012 at 11:32am Reply

  • Suzanna: This sounds wonderful, V.! I love melon (Juan Canary is a favorite) and these drinks will be on my list for this weekend!

    I also love watermelon agua fresca. August 9, 2012 at 11:47am Reply

    • Victoria: I just love that you can make a delicious treat out of something that normally just gets thrown away. Hope that you will enjoy this drink.

      Watermelon is another summer obsession for me. August 9, 2012 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Daisy: That looks fantastic! I never thought that you could use the melon seeds . . . what a great idea! August 9, 2012 at 1:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Daisy, try it! It’s so easy and the result will surprise you. The flavor of melon comes through very clearly. August 9, 2012 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Elena: Gorgeous photo of the drink, it looks like an ad for an exclusive spa. I wore Mousson today after I read this post in the morning, and also had Horchata by Vampire Weekend running through my head all day. Very summery all around. :) August 9, 2012 at 8:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Elena! :) Your day definitely sounds full of summery colors and scents.
      Mousson is one of the fragrances from the Jardin series that I wear the most. August 10, 2012 at 3:49am Reply

  • Ferris: This sounds delicious and so refreshing. I would have never thought of using the throw-away pulp and seeds in this manner. One question, do you use cheesecloth to strain or just a regular smell filter sieve? August 9, 2012 at 11:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: My most surprising discovery was how strong the melon seed flavor turned out to be.

      You can use either, a regular fine mesh sieve would work well. August 10, 2012 at 3:51am Reply

  • solanace: That’s so clever! I have never used the melon seeds (except for planting!) before, so I must try the horchata this weekend. Thank’s again, V. Lovely pic. August 10, 2012 at 4:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you enjoyed it! When I tasted this drink at my friend’s house, I made her tell me the recipe right away. Who knew that melon seeds could be so good! August 10, 2012 at 7:18am Reply

  • Amer: Amazing! I have always wondered who was the first to discover that ambergris and civet smell wonderful in high dilution. Now I have to add “who was the first to eat melon seeds?”. It never occurred to me they might be edible. Also, nuts as a refreshment?!?! Another first for me.

    The rice version reminds me of a rice pudding my grandmother made me when I was little. It also involved milk and the result was a thick cream that is served with cinnamon. Cardamon can also be used as a very pleasant twist to that recipe -goes great with milk (in perfumes also) August 10, 2012 at 5:44am Reply

    • Victoria: I love rice puddings of all types, and I also love the Lebanese kind made with spices and water, meghli. It takes a whole to make with all of that nonstop stirring, but the results are worth it.

      Each summer my grandmother dried watermelon and pumpkin seeds, and as kids we loved eating them. So, I suspected that melon seeds might be edible too, except that it would never occur to me to try them. It didn’t seem like there would be much inside. But they do taste sweet and almond like. If you’ve ever tried green almonds, you might recognize the flavor. August 10, 2012 at 7:20am Reply

      • Amer: I loved eating green almonds as a kid but there was a rumor that eating too many would make your tummy hurt (never happened to me so I suspect it was to keep kids from eating the whole crop). Pumpkin seeds are kind of traditional here, like sunflower but watermelon and melon are unheard for me! So can you use watermelon seeds too to make a horchata? I suspect the problem with them would be that before they can be used in a recipe they need to enter and exit someone’s mouth… :S Won’t be seeing them in a restaurant any time soon. August 10, 2012 at 2:55pm Reply

        • Victoria: I loved eating green unripe apples as a kid. And green apricots. I guess that they are similar to green almonds. The taste of those stolen apricots–we were forbidden to touch them until they ripened–is something I remember perfectly even now.

          Watermelon seeds would be delicious too, but yes, there are some issues with getting them out of the watermelon. :) Oh, and the drink might be a dirty-pink color, if the seeds are black. Not very appetizing. August 11, 2012 at 5:26pm Reply

  • Vishishta: An Indian Swami once taught me a shortcut to all the stirring on rice pudding. You boil the rice in water instead of milk–you can then boil it faster. Then when it gets to the gelatinous stage, you add rich heavy cream! Works very well and is a lot less trouble! August 10, 2012 at 1:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: I cannot imagine you going wrong with heavy cream in anything! Thank you, Vishishta. I had no idea about this trick for making rice pudding. August 10, 2012 at 2:16pm Reply

  • Ariadne: Scrumptuous recipe and photo!!! August 10, 2012 at 8:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! Glad that you liked it. :) August 11, 2012 at 5:23pm Reply

  • Hannah: I made this yesterday with honeydew seeds and it was delicious. July 20, 2013 at 2:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for letting me know! :) I’m making a new recipe today for rice horchata (blending lightly cooked rice in water, sugar, cinnamon,) so if it comes out well, I will share. July 21, 2013 at 7:10am Reply

      • Hannah: Today I made something based on a rice horchata. Instead of a cinnamon stick, I used 3 green cardamom pods (I’d never used pods before so I didn’t know what an ideal number would be. 3 turned out well but the flavor is very strong) and a bit of rosewater. I also added 1/2 cup of milk. I think it is good. July 24, 2013 at 2:16pm Reply

        • Victoria: Wow, this sounds amazing. I already am imagining it as sorbet or granita. July 24, 2013 at 2:20pm Reply

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