Water steadily trickled through the web of pulp and seeds I carved out of the cantaloupe.  In the stillness of the morning, I could hear the stream of nectar dwindle into faint drops.  I watched the water slowly dribble down to my glass bowl, stripping away every ounce of  sweetness from the fragrant pulp.

I peeked through the window and noticed the heavy blanket of cloud that still lingered outside.  Overcast with a high of sixties or so was the forecast that day.  Typical for this time of the year when the intense heat inland propels and traps a thick layer of cool air along the coast in the mornings that burns off in the afternoons — if we’re lucky.  The fact that it would still be warmer in Oakland than in the city that day comforted me.

San Francisco redefined summers for me.  Gone are the endless scorching summer days of my childhood.  Summers here and summers back home are clearly night and day.  When I first visited the city many years ago on a summer morning, I came miserably unprepared.  I was the classic San Francisco tourist.  Dressed in shirt and shorts with flip flops to boot, I froze on top of Twin Peaks.   The picturesque skyline was nowhere in sight and I felt incredibly duped.  So much for sunny California.

I held the halved cantaloupe with a firm grip.  Its hard, netted skin felt starkly different from its delicate flesh.  The ring that outlined its ribless rind was vividly green. The scent of the summer fruit reminded me of summers past.

I reached for my melon stripper, the tiny gadget my mom brought me from home, and started carving the ripe melon.  I deftly carved long, noodle-like strips.  With every stroke, juice dribbled out of the fruit and into my glass bowl.  My mouth watered.  I hurriedly poured myself a glass of the sweet melon juice and tossed in a few cubes of ice. With a fork, I fished out the sweet strips of cantaloupe.  Even on a chilly August morning, it tasted like the sweet summer back home.


Melon Coolers


Melon Coolers Recipe, makes 4 to 6 servings

1 small cantaloupe
4 to 6 cups chilled water
sugar to taste
one or two calamansi limes

Halve the cantaloupe and carve out the seeds and pulp from its hollow center into a fine strainer fitted on top of a medium-sized bowl.  Pour the chilled water through the strainer while gently mashing the pulp and seeds with a fork.

With a melon stripper, carve the cantaloupe into long noodle-like strips.  The stripper is a handy Filipino kitchen tool for cutting long strips of cantaloupe and coconut.  The tiny gadget is very similar to a citrus zester.  It has a handle and a fan-like array of thin, sharp-edged metal strips shaped into quarter-inch rings.  The kind of stripper that my mom used when we were little had a wooden handle but the gadgets available nowadays are made of stainless steel and have a stripper on one end and a baller on the other.  Unfortunately, this handy kitchen tool is not available in North America.  Alternatively, cut and peel the cantaloupe into slices and grate them with a coarse grater.

Collect cantaloupe juice and strips in the bowl.  Add sugar to taste and mix well.  Squeeze one or two calamansi limes.  Transfer cantaloupe juice in a pitcher and serve chilled.


Melon Coolers

  • barb @ WishfulChef

    This looks absolutely delicious. It sounds so refreshing and has a beautiful color! I love the addition of the calamansi limes.

  • Anonymous

    My mom used to make this for us when my siblings and I were little kids and we loved it! Brings me back to my childhood! 

  • Gracerice

    OMG, I love your blog. It brings back all of the wonderful memories of my mom and her cooking. She used to make this drink for us. Now, I can make it for my kids, thanks to you!

  • Anonymous

    You always bring back memories of my childhood in the Philippines.  Although I left when I was a teenager, I know that the summers (when it was really hot) often meant various drinks and refreshments that I take for granted here in the US.  The plain syrup with the tapioca pearls, the coconut juice frozen in the long plastic bags for sucking and of course the melon juice you just posted.  Thank you.  

    I am visiting SF for a day in Labor day weekend, Mon, Sept 5 (attending an event in Milpitas on Sept 4) and I am sure it will be quiet but I always love visiting because it is such a contrast to the San Diego lifestyle.  Here shorts and flip flops are not uncommon. :-)

  • http://www.saffronlane.com/blog Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane

    This summer has been unusually cold and foggy, but this vibrant cooler sure makes up for it.  I adore your description of carving the fruit and must know where I can get my hands on a melon stripper of my very own.

  • http://www.asianinamericamag.com Betty Ann fr Asianinamericamag

    Oh Jun, I loved this Melon cooler forever! Can’t remember a summer without this. And yes, I KNOW how precious those little Melon slicers are for us. I have mine, safely tucked away just for this purpose. Thanks for sharing another beautiful post and lovely photo…definitely quenched my thirst today!

  • http://crumpetsandcakes.blogspot.com/ m.

    this looks really refreshing, but we need summer to enjoy this….hot coffee and tea for now :)

  • Samanthafoodgeek

    Jun- we must have our minds connected at some point! I’ve been thinking of this drink for months now! I’m just disappointed that handy melon spoon isn’t available here in the US. It’s now my mission to find it because that texture of those melon ‘noodles’ has no substitute!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    I can loan my melon stripper if you want. I’ve searched hard for a similar one here in the States but all attempts have been futile.  The closest one I’ve tried is a lemon zester but it’s really not the same.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Enjoy your visit to San Francisco! Milpitas gets pretty warm in the summer so you should be able to wear your shorts and flip flops! :-) I actually work not too far from Milpitas — in Fremont, the next city north.  Enjoy your visit!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog and I hope you’ll come back for more.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you, Barb.  A little bit of calamansi adds another layer of fruity, citrus flavor to the juice.  Perfect summer drink, indeed.

  • http://www.xaieatsalot.com Xai Losito

    i just had these!!!! sooo good and super refreshing. by the way, what to you use to back light your subjects?

  • Hazel

    I always love this drink! I had also made a special request to get the stripper/baller from the Philippines…it’s an awesome tool.

  • http://twitter.com/thedailypalette The Daily Palette

    Sarap!  One of my favorite summer treats!

  • Prerna@IndianSimmer

    Oh wow, this is GOOD! Gonna try it :-)

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    I use a very simple set-up at home: a hot light source, meaning continuous light source with a 500W daylight corrected bulb and a foldable diffuser to, well, diffuse the light.  I also use a simple poster board (the ones you buy at Walgreens) to reflect the light back to the subject.    It really is a simple set-up.  I bought the lamps from an independent camera lighting store in the city and I bought the foldable diffusers from Calumet also in San Francisco.  Hope that helps. If you want when you’re in Oakland on a weekend you can swing by our place and I can show it to you (and also to meet you!)

  • Tresdelicious

    What a nice refreshing summer treat. I love it.

  • http://junglefrog-cooking.com Simone

    O this looks so good and while the rain is pouring down outside my window, this is just the thing I need to get a feeling of summer. Beautiful shots!

  • http://iamafeeder.net Jackie

    These are so beautiful and your writing is so wonderful, Jun… I’m just so sad that I can’t try this because I’m allergic to melons!

    It looks like the perfect Summer cool-down, though – please drink a few extra for me =)

    Jax x

  • Anonymous

    This is so so pretty looking and love cantaloupe! Must try soon

  • http://cookieandkate.com Cookieandkate

    Gorgeous drink and setting. Great styling!

  • http://80breakfasts.blogspot.com/ joey

    You have just sent me back to my college days!  This is perfect on a hot day…but I would certainly drink it right up on any day, hot or cold!

  • Kate

    My mom just made this for us last week, she was visiting. Love it!

  • Daisy

    This takes me back to my childhood in the Philippines.  I just discovered your blog and I absolutely love it.  Your photos are incredible.  When my blog grows up, it wants to be your blog.  

  • Itsmealex

    I always blend, add water and sweeten to taste. will have to try this recipe, looks delicious!

  • Ydaniah

    What s calamansi limes. Please explain.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Calamansi is a local Filipino lime.  It’s a cross between a lime and an orange.  They are as big as kumquats but round, as big as a quarter.  Here are more posts about calamansi you may want to check out.




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