It’s the rainy season in rural Senegal, which means that it’s time to harvest watermelon! Watermelon is a tasty and popular crop, originally native to western and central Africa. In Ouarkhokh, cooperative members grow watermelon plants interspersed with rows of corn. The corn stabilizes the soil and acts as a windbreak for the growing watermelon. The Ouarkhokh garden cooperative is currently maintaining nearly 8000 square meters of watermelon plants.
Ouarkhokh cooperative members harvested their watermelon crop a little early this year because some plants were suffering from a fungal disease called cercosporiose. After treating the plants with an organic anti-fungicide, cooperative members were able to salvage much of the crop. Because watermelon production in Senegal was poor overall this year, Ouarkhokh cooperative members were able to sell their crop for an excellent price at local markets!
If you have some watermelons from your own garden, try this recipe for West African-inspired watermelon lemonade:
1 cup fresh lemon juice (3-4 large lemons)
6 cups scooped watermelon, blended (3.5 cups after blending)
½ cup sugar (to taste)
¼ cup water
2 cups ice
Juice the lemons. Next, scoop the watermelon into a blender. You’ll need about 1/3 of an average watermelon to get 6 cups. Blend the watermelon in a blender or food processor. You need about 3.5 cups of watermelon puree. Add the lemon juice. Strain the lemon juice and watermelon mixture. The finer your strainer, the less pulp you’ll have.
Meanwhile, heat up the water and sugar in a small saucepan. You may like more or less sugar – depending on how sweet the watermelon is. Simmer gently until the sugar dissolves. Pour into the strained watermelon mixture.
Next, add 2 cups ice and let chill in refrigerator. Serve over ice.
Recipe from Global Table Adventure: http://globaltableadventure.com/2011/05/08/recipe-west-african-inspired-watermelon-lemonade/