Blackberry Limeade Recipe

This blackberry limeade is a stunning jeweled-toned refresher, perfect for summer, from the cookbook Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose.

Blackberry Limeade

I was waiting for the perfect day to give this blackberry limeade recipe a try. Time and again, bundled in blankets on fog shrouded San Francisco afternoons, I'd whine to Wayne that we should move somewhere with a proper summer. Visions of my hand wrapped around a frosty glass of a jeweled-toned refresher like this occupied a disproportionate amount of my daydreams. No more. With temperatures roaring well past 90 degrees in San Francisco on Friday, I got my perfect summer day - and with a bit of help from Martha Hall Foose (executive chef of the Viking Cooking School), I took full advantage. The recipe is from her eloquently written new cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook.

Blackberry Limeade Recipe

Cookbooks writers and enthusiasts listen up - Martha is a master of the head note. Hers are some of the most alluring, informative, and transporting lead-ins to recipes I've read. This one precedes the recipe for Cantaloupe Daiquiris...

The hottest I have ever been in my life was at 5:45 P.M., on August 29, 1998, on the no. 923 St. Charles Avenue streetcar in New Orleans. I had been working down in the French Quarter as a pastry chef for Susan Spicer's Bayona. Some days the unique commute felt like the scene in a movie. After rattling down the boulevards, and immediately upon entering our uptown digs, I stripped down and stood in the shower with only cold water running. I could almost hear the sizzle on contact. I really felt as if I had been braised.

The courtyards of New Orleans offer a haven from the heat. Shaded and mossy, planted with sweet-smelling Confederate Jasmine, they're like Mrs. Venable's arboretum in Suddenly Last Summer. She had her trusty secretary deliver a daiquiri every day at five. The musky sweetness of the melon, married to the brightness of the basil and mint, suspended in an icy slurry, will cool an afternoon down to the slow simmer of twilight.

I'd be willing to bet you'd like to try that recipe as well. And that's how it goes with this book - the author skillfully unveiling glimpses of her life (and love) of the South through a lovely collection of recipes.

I know many of you come to my site for inspiration on the natural foods/veg-friendly fronts, so just be aware that this isn't really that kind of book. This is Southern cookbook with all the deep-fried, shortening-packed delicacies you can imagine. Lots of meat, plenty of seafood-based recipes. That being said, there are many great ideas that are easily adaptable. For example, there's a black-eyed pea cake that (minus the bacon) looks like a fresh twist on a veggie burger, a frozen cucumber salad that sounds fascinating, and multiple rice salads that could easily be done with any number of whole grains (or whole grain rice). Plenty to be inspired by.

One of the things I loved about the blackberry limeade recipe was Martha's use of raw sugar - it lends deep, complex level of sweetness that you just don't get with white sugar. It bridges the blackberries, lime, and cardamom wonderfully.

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Blackberry Limeade Recipe

Martha's recipe calls for ginger ale as the mixer (delicious!). I don't drink much soda of any sort - it's just too sweet for me, so I did a second batch with sparkling water as the mixer- great for those of you avoiding soft drinks. For some it might make sense to keep the components separate (instead of combining everything in one pitcher - making it easy to mix each drink to order. This way each person can control their own level of flavor/sweetness. Martha also includes a side bar of helpful notes related to this recipe - berries can be pulsed briefly in a food processor and strained. Be careful not to crush the seeds, as this adds a dirty taste to the blackberries. You can freeze blackberries in ice cubes for a nice accessory to the drink. The sugar syrup can be transferred to a metal mixing bowl set in a bowl of ice to cool it down quickly. For a wonderful frozen cocktail, puree ice and a jigger of gin with the blackberry-lime mixture in a blender.

4 cups fresh blackberries, or unsweetened frozen blackberries, thawed, plus extra for garnish

1 cup turbinado sugar, natural cane sugar, or grated palm sugar
1 kaffir lime leaf, crushed, or 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1 green cardamom pod, lightly crushed
1/2 cup fresh Key lime juice (about 8 -12 limes)
Thin lime slices, for garnish
2 cups ginger ale (hs note: or sparkling water)
Ice cubes

Lay a doubled piece of cheesecloth on a nonporous work area. (As the berries will stain a wide array of cutting surfaces and clothes, this may be best done outside or over newspaper and wearing an apron or smock.) Place the blackberries on top of the cheesecloth and gather into a bundle like a hobo sack. Hold the sack of berries over a glass, stainless steel, plastic, or ceramic bowl. Twist the top of the sack to squeeze the juice from the berries into the receptacle. (This will yield about 1 cup very strong, tart, dark juice.) Refrigerate the juice until needed; discard the purple mash.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, 1 cup water, the lime leaf, and the cardamom pod. bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced to a thin syrup. Remove the lime leaf and cardamom. Allow the sugar syrup to cool and then chill it.

In a 1-quart pitcher, combine the blackberry juice, sugar syrup, and lime juice. Stir to combine and then refrigerate until cold.

To serve, stir the ginger ale (or water) into the pitcher, fill glasses with ice, and pour in the blackberry limeade. Garnish with slices of lime.

Serves 8.

Excerpted with permission from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose (Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. 2008)

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Your suggestions for the mixer sound delicious. I am not much of a soda person either.

I am looking forward to trying this. I love the sound of the cookbook and of her descriptions. I like being able to picture that world as I drink my limeade.

Haha! Thank you for sharing the warm weather with the Midwesterners, because I was feeling the heat and also made a sparkling beverage--mine's grapefruit and orange ( if someone wants it), but the berry one sounds like it's on my list for next time. Cardamom notes sound delicious, and I have a bag of pods asking to be used in more ways than I've thought of. I love a naturally carbonated beverage.

Heidi, those look like Bearss limes, not Key limes. Since Key limes are intensely flavored and slightly bitter, the amount of sugar would be correct in the recipe as written, but too sweet when using limes other than Key Limes. Also, this may be a perfect time to repeat the recipe for hibiscus flowers. I just made a batch yesterday and sweetened it with Stevia and it was sooo refreshing. HS: Hi James! I love that hibiscus cooler. Thanks for the comment. I'm pretty sure these were Key limes - the photo actually makes them look a bit different. A couple little stickers on the limes said Key limes - they tasted like the Key limes I've had in the past, and were the right size.


I make a drink similar to this that you might enjoy. Since I moved to WA from FL I have been freezing excess berries. Once you thaw them (when you really want a summer drink in midwinter) the juice just falls out of them, they are very easy to squeeze. Personally I don't think I ever add sugar to anything I do with them though, they are so sweet as it is.


Erika--I have used agave nectar in lemonade and some other homemade fruit concoctions lately, with nice results. It's such a mellow kind of sweet that dissolves easily in other liquids, particularly if you like to control the sweetness. Indeed, nyc has been socked with August-like temps/humidity lately, so this is perfectly timed, Heidi!


The kaffir lime and cardamom sound amazing in this. but it seems like a lot of sugar. Do you think it could be reduced, perhaps even by half?

Our blackberries were on earlier this month in the Low Country. This recipe would be perfect with a fresh Halibit fillet, some fresh snap beans wild rice and for the last course a scoop of Ice cream with some fresh berries on top:) I have gained a greater appreciation for Limeaide since moving from the west to the southeast!

This does sound really good! I think I might try your recipe with the different spices. I live in south Louisiana, and work in Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans); we have been picking blackberries in the back yard for the last 3 or 4 weeks. I have a big stash growing in the freezer. At the end of May, they had the strawberry festival nearby, and my husband was able to get a whole flat of LA strawberries for $10 on the roadside. We made jam, we made popsicles, some with blackberries, some without. My favorite, however, was to take the leftover "popsicle" mix (blackberry & strawberry), and pour it into the small ice cube trays, and pop those fruity ice cubes into white wine spritzers. Delicious!


This sounds like it would go wonderfully with various Indian cuisines. We'll have to try this with grated jaggery -- though, blackberries being both scarce and expensive, we may try substituting tamarind. (Tamarind, ginger, and jaggery would also make a wonderful drink, I'm thinking!) HS: sounds great! Please report back if you give that combo a try :)


i seem to be the only one under 50 who posts on these things (im 11) but i cant just exit out without giving you props it would be a great and healthy substitue for lemonade maybe i will get a stand selling these for 99 cents or something looks great!!

Hanna A.

This recipe sounds wonderful. I think this warm Seattle day calls for a drink like this.

this looks ... amazing! and now i am longing for a tall, cool glass ...

What a great recipe - will be very refreshing in my world where it has been about 111 outside (in the shade ;)). I wonder how it would taste with a splash of Vodka added to it. Hmm sounds like a must try for this weekend. Cheers and Thank You Cathy

Cathy C

HOORAY!!! It's so nice to see that key limes are finally getting the credit that they deserve as being extremely versatile for more things than just Key Lime Pie (not that pie is bad)!!! We use these a lot in South American food/drink, and I get very creative with the beautiful, crisp flavor these little beauties can give. I cannot WAIT to try this limeade... seems like the flavors would go perfectly together. Try using key lime juice in your guacamole & other dips; gives a much better flavor than plain old limes. I use it for no-bake cheesecakes, dressings, you name it! Great recipe, Heidi!


it's crazy that you post this today because i was just thinking about what i'm going to do with the 10 baskets of berries i bought at the farmers market yesterday. and i LOVE cardamom and limes! this is perfect for a hot sacramento evening!

That looks so refreshing! I bet that it would be great with stevia as well. I don't like stevia in most things, but it works great with limes or lemons, for some reason.

Can anyone say 4th of July? I was just wondering what drink I should make. This sounds perfect! Though knowing my family, I bet it'll end up with some Grey Goose in it before the fireworks start!

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