Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Virgin Mango Mojitos

I love mojitos, they are hands down one of my favorite summer and all year round drinks.  The ingredients are simple, and you can easily make one with any type of fruit or vegetable imaginable.  I love my Cubans for this invention.  The combination of mint and lime is simply genius!

I know in most Latin American countries yerba buena or spearmint (a mint variety) is readily available.  You often find it growing wild like a weed, but because of winter and colder temperatures we don't get the privilege of year round access here in the United States.  Well, certainly not in the North East of the United States.  If you plant some in your backyard though you will find that the plant loves to reproduce.  When my sister, who lives in NJ, bought a house it came with its own supply of yerba buena in the backyard.  During the winter it was completely dead but the moment it got a whiff of spring it started to overpopulate her backyard.  She never has to replant it, it's just always there.  And the smell is divine.  Definitely a plant that everyone should grow in their backyard, it will reward you ten fold during the hot summer months.

Another great thing about mojitos is that you can use various ingredients to develop your own distinct signature.  I once worked near a restaurant where I used to buy cucumber mojitos.  They were amazing!   I still haven't come up with my own signature, but I want to tinker with making a ginger honey mojito, or a lychee mojito.  I'll figure something out eventually.  On the other hand, one thing I don't like about mojitos is how expensive they can be.  I usually find mojito's in the $8 to $15 range per drink!  That's New York City for you though.  So instead of paying up we can just as easily make our own virgin or regular mojitos at home.  All of the ingredients, except for the blue agave nectar which will run you about $5, will cost less than $8.  In total that's about $13 spent on ingredients that will yield more than enough for probably a group of 8.  This of course does not include the cost of alcohol...maybe you can get a friend to buy you some white rum as a gift! ::wink:: 

The key to this recipe is that we are not making individual mojitos.  The recipe below will help you if that's what you seek, but I was looking at making something that would be easy to prepare and serve as a concentrated mojito mixture.  You can then take the concentrated mixture to make a glass or a pitcher of mojito that you can serve at your next BBQ.  Whatever you have left over you can freeze into ice cubes that you can later drop in your seltzer water or you can save the mixture in a container and thaw it to make a pitcher at a later date.  What's great about this concentrated mixture is that it really lends itself to various recipes without having to make individual servings of mojito.

TIP 1 - If you want to make a different flavor mojito all you have to do is find all natural juice to substitute the mango juice in the recipe.  Try to find juice with no high fructose corn syrup or other ingredients that you don't understand.  If you can't find them, then I have an even better suggestion, make your own juice!  For example, if you want to make a lychee, strawberry, cucumber, or coconut mojito all you have to do is buy the fruit or vegetable and blend it with some ice cubes.  You want the mixture to be a little thick so just play with the fruit and ice combination. Make enough of the mixture so that you get about 4 ounces or half a cup per person. 

Mint Leaves (10 leaves per drink)
Limes (4 lime wedges per drink)
Blue Agave Nectar - Light or Dark (half a tablespoon per drink)
White Rum (1 1/2 ounces per drink)
2 Liters of Lemon Lime Seltzer - (half cup or 4 ounces per drink)
All Natural Mango Nectar Juice (4 ounces per drink)
Muddler if you have one if not a large wooden spoon
Ice (to your liking)
Mango (Not required, but if you have some laying around they can be used in this recipe)

TIP 2A standard bar pitcher in the US will hold about 32 ounces.  A liter container will hold about 34 ounces of liquid.  So on average you are getting about 4 eight ounce drinks per pitcher.  Keep this in mind before you buy your ingredients.  

  • Before you begin, make sure you keep the seltzer water and the mango nectar refrigerated so that you get a nice and refreshing drink, even without the ice.
  • Roll the lime with the palm of your hand to release some of the juice before you cut.  Cut each lime into 8 slices.  Estimate that you will use about 4 slices per drink.
  • Buy a bunch of mint leaves and just strip the leaves.  If for example you want to make enough for 4 people then strip 40 leaves.
  • In a container, squeeze half of the limes and drop the wedges in the container.  Add the remaining lime wedges into the container as well.  Break apart the mint leaves with your hands before adding them in the container.  This is a very helpful step in the case that you have to use a wooden spoon.
  • Add half a tablespoon of Blue Agave Nectar per drink.  The reason you only add half a tablespoon per drink is because Agave nectar is sweeter than sugar.
  • Add only 2 ounces of mango nectar per drink to the mixture.  
  • If you have mangoes laying around the house first remove the skin, cut up the mango into smaller cubes, then add to the mixture.  A lot of stores now sell frozen mango chunks that can be thawed.  Go with your gut, if you want a lot of mango pulp in your drink then go crazy.  If you need a number then add 2 to 3 cubes.
  • With your muddler or wooden spoon start to crush and mix your ingredients together.
  • You will discover that you just made a big mush of all of the ingredients.
  • If you think the mush is not too sweet then you can add a little bit more of the agave syrup. Remember that the mango nectar will tend to be on the sweet side so you don't over do it. 
TIP 3 - Buy some Wholesome Organic Blue Agave Sweetener or other type of agave syrup  and use it to replace your supply of white or brown table sugar.  Agave is a great substitute for table sugar because it's low in the glycemic index.  This means that the body will take longer to absorb the sugar into your bloodstream.  On the other hand table sugar is much higher in the glycemic index and will quickly absorb the sugar into your bloodstream causing spikes in your sugar levels.  Agave nectar is also sweeter than table sugar so you need less of it to sweeten you coffee or mojito.  I'll be writing a post devoted to Blue Agave Nectar very shortly.  It really tastes amazing with coffee.

At this point you have two options you can either freeze the mixture or serve it to your guests.
  • If you want to freeze the mixture into ice cubes or in a container go ahead and save it for a later day.  Make sure you remove the limes if you want to make ice cubes.  If you are preserving the entire mixture just leave the limes in the mixture.
  • If you want to make individual servings, fill a cup with about 2 to 3 ounces of the mixture.   Pour the remaining 2 ounces of mango nectar and mix.  Add two or three ice cubes.  Then add the 4 ounces of seltzer water.  Mix with a spoon and serve.  Try using a larger glass so that you don't have to fight to mix all of the ingredients together.  It's also helpful so that the drink doesn't overflow.
  • If you want to make a pitcher we are under the assumption that you will be preparing enough for four people.  If that's the case pour the mixture until it covers 1/3rd of the pitcher.  That's around 8 to 12 ounces of the mixture or 2 to 3 ounces per drink.  Follow the same concept with the remaining ingredients.  Add 8 ounces of mango nectar and 16 ounces of the seltzer water.  
  • If you want to use alcohol, just add 1 1/2 ounces of run to your cup, or 5 ounces to your pitcher then serve.
  • Mix all of the ingredients and it is now ready to serve.
TIP 4 - I would personally refrain from adding ice to your pitcher.  I don't like it when ice dilutes my drink before it's even served. The same goes for Sangria.  I recommend that you instead add ice to your guest's cup and then pour the mojito mixture.  You might even find that by doing that you'll get more than 4 cups out of your pitcher.

I really hope you enjoy your virgin or alcoholic mango mojito with friends and family during your next BBQ, or random hot summer day.

Buen Provecho! =)

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About This Blog

I started this blog because I want to introduce new and healthy ingredients into my everyday meals. Living in the NY, NJ, CT tri-state area you find a plethora of local grocery stores that service a number of diverse neighborhoods. Every time I visit one of these stores I find fruits, vegetables, and ingredients that I have never used, or that I am afraid to use. I want to incorporate these ingredients to create new and healthier ways to experience Latin food, as well as other types of cuisines. I think it's important to love and continue our cooking traditions while also testing and incorporating new and healthier ingredients and techniques.

One of the most distinct ingredients that I know is not widely used in Latin cuisine is tofu, and it’s a shame. I have had tofu at Chinese and Thai restaurants before, but I never gave the ingredient a second thought. Tofu is such an amazing alternative to meats and it’s super healthy and cheap! This one ingredient got me thinking about all of the other healthy and fresh ingredients I could be using to develop Latin infused dishes that everyone in my family will love. That’s why I decided to name this blog Tofu con Sazón!