Last week we were hit with a heat wave, and temperatures soared to almost 100 degrees! Rather than cook with a burner or oven in my son’s cooking class, we decided to make Sun Tea and Mint Lemonade using mint from our garden harvest. But most importantly, I wanted to make a recipe that used dates instead of sugar for a sweetener.
I arrived at school early and filled four quart-sized canning jars with filtered water, then placed 4-6 herbal caffeine-free tea bags in each jar, covered them with a metal lid and ring, and let them sit for 3-5 hours.
Several hours later, I arrived for cooking, and we took the students out to the garden to harvest some amazingly aromatic mint.
We returned back to the classroom to cut the lemons, squeeze the lemon juice, and make the date puree. I soaked an entire package of pitted dates in water for several hours, then I drained the water out and added all of the dates to my Vitamix. I turned it on slowly and continued adding the soaking water just until the mixture was able to move freely in the Vitamix. This is the end result — a super sweet mixture of organic dates that I used to sweeten the lemonade.
We used 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 4 cups of water, and 1/2 cup of date puree. I scoured online recipes for sugar free lemonade, and had a hard time trying to find anything that didn’t use white sugar or a simple syrup (sugar + water dissolved over heat). I hate using anything with sugar at home or in class, so I was focused on making this work with dates. It was definitely an interesting result. If the lemonade had stayed a beautiful yellow color, I would have been happier with the look of it, but instead it turned brown because of the pureed dates. So how did I keep it appealing to the kids? I served it in colored cups, so they couldn’t tell what color the beverage was!
They had fun experimenting with adding mint, adding more date puree, and adding some Sun Tea to test the different flavors.
I would definitely make this again with my children, and I’m glad we were able to turn an experimental recipe into a successful adventure where we were able to apply garden harvests, using the sun for heat, and taste testing various beverage options to a group of impressionable kids who enjoyed the end result! The best part is that it was all sugar-free!