Cool Summer Drinks, Sans Bottles

On a hot day, a refreshing cold drink can work wonders. But you don't need lemonade or iced tea from a bottle.

Tuesday on The Early Show's weeklong series "Culinary Inspirations," Chris Kimball offered culinary inspirations you can pour.

Kimball, who's editor in chief of Cook's Country magazine and Cook's Illustrated, and hosts America's Test Kitchen, showed that it's really easy to make delicious, cool drinks from scratch. Nothing fancy, mind you — just good, basic drinks from homemade lemonade to iced teas.

And all the products, recipes and tips were tried out in America's Test Kitchen.

BASICS

How to juice a lemon: The basic wooden reamer works well, and the best juicer was from Oxo. Here's the review: The two winners of our tests were the plastic Oxo Good Grips Citrus Juicer ($11.99) and the Fox Run Wood Lemon Reamer ($2.99). They both juiced lemons quickly and efficiently. The Oxo Citrus Juicer features a unique design with two open, ridged heads (for large and small citrus fruit) and a non-skid bowl for juice collection. The Fox Run reamer has a classic design and an especially comfortable handle.

The best blender: The Braun PowerMax was the Best Buy in our ratings ($49.99) and the L'Equip R.P.M. was the winner at $134 (although the VitaMix at around $400 is a terrific machine but hugely expensive). Blender bottoms ought to be tapered, in order to funnel food down into the blades, but the wattage (simply an indication of how much power the motor consumes) or the horsepower of the motor is not a good indication at all, since it is not necessarily related to either output wattage or speed to the blades. We measured blade speed using a tachometer and found that this did not matter, either. The key was jar design (as in tapered).

How to make simple syrup: Use a saucepan with one cup sugar, one cup water, and one tablespoon of zest. This can be used as a flavoring for many summer drinks.
  • Brian Dakss

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