||[Jun. 28th, 2014|07:51 pm]
Someone brought some sikanjabin to the Lefton's beginning of summer party, and Lis liked it enough to look up some recipes online for me to make for her. It's a summer drink in the "sweet plus sour plus maybe some other flavoring plus a good deal of water equals hydration" family, of which the most familiar in the United States is lemonade. My reliable favorite switchel is in the same family: molasses, cider vinegar, ginger, and water. Lemonade, of course, is lemon juice, white sugar, and water; pink lemonade adds either raspberry syrup or cranberry juice, depending on what kind.|
Sikanjabin, an Iranian drink, is vinegar, sugar, mint, and water. For this one, I just used plain old white vinegar; some of the recipes suggest white wine vinegar, which is only somewhat more flavorful than white vinegar, and only one of them suggested a flavorful vinegar like cider vinegar.
Honestly, I usually think of white vinegar as more of a cleaning substance than a food, but, in this case, it was the right choice: it is sour enough to cut the sweet without adding flavors to compete with the mint.
So, yeah. Two cups of sugar in a pot. Add one cup of water, and stir over low heat until it dissolves. (Yes, this DOES work. It's called double simple syrup. Simple syrup is 1-to-1 water and sugar, which is the simplest you can make a syrup, hence "simple syrup." But double simple works. You CAN dissolve two cups of sugar into one cup of water. It just takes time, stirring, and a little heat helps. The end result is a little yellowish; with regular simple syrup, you keep stirring until it's clear, but double strength won't.)
Add half a cup of white vinegar. Actually, you can add it before the sugar completely dissolves. The extra liquid could help it dissolve easier and faster. Once that's all pretty well incorporated, add a big ol' bunch of mint and keep it cooking on a low heat until the mint looks like it's given up all the minty-ness it's going to give up. Scoop out the dead mint, and strain the rest into whatever you're keeping the syrup in. The straining should be pretty easy, since the only thing you're straining out is the little bits of mint, most of which you've already scooped out...
Once the syrup has cooled, you put a sploosh of it into a tall glass of water or seltzer. Use about the same proportions as you'd use chocolate syrup when making chocolate milk.
And there you go. A minty, sweet, just-sour-enough to be thirst-quenching summer drink.
I suspect that you're going to want to tinker with it after you make it once. I like it this way just fine, but it definitely tastes like the sort of thing that you can build on. For instance, some of the recipes suggest variations which include cucumber, watermelon, or both. And some use different flavors of vinegar. I think a berry based vinegar might be good, although I think that cider vinegar is just too strong.
But, yeah. I think it's worth doing the plain version once -- but I think I may start playing with variations after this. Although the plain version is definitely good enough on its own.
Have you explored the recipes for it in Cariadoc's Miscellany online? He has some tasty ones.
I was calculating it out, and I think it comes out to something like six teaspoons of sugar for a 16-oz drink. That's maybe, what, half the sugar of a Coke, or something? Which is still a lot.
Coke, for that matter, is a concoction much along the same lines, with phosphoric acid supplying the sour.
I remember reading something similar-might have been in one of the "Little House" books but might not-about man working a harvest who was pleasantly surprised that the jug of water brought out at the break bell was flavored with vinegar and brown sugar, because plain water might cause you to faint, you needed the other nutrition (electrolytes implied but not explicit) to keep you going.
Yes, I think that was indeed in one of the Little House books.
Yup, that's a version of switchel -- nineteenth century Gatorade. Tastes terrible during the winter, but, if you're dehydrated, it's DELICIOUS.