COOLING trend : Refreshing, icy summer drinks, easily prepared with fruits and juices, soda, ginger ale or even ice cream, help chase away the scorching heat--and let you take advantage of the fruitful abundance of the season now available in Southland supermarket produce sections

Times Food Editor

The marked trend toward lighter beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, becomes even more noticeable as the weather warms up. Sales of fruit-flavored bottled waters and wine coolers increase dramatically as thirsty consumers yearn for a chilly drink that will alleviate the heat. Refreshing as many of the fruit-flavored bottled spritzers, coolers and waters are, however, none can match the fresh, rich flavors to be found in homemade versions of these drinks that begin with the battery of summer fruits currently filling produce counters.

Certainly this is the time of year to indulge in personalized summer chillers. All it takes is a selection of favorite summer fruits, a well-chilled wine or ginger ale or plain soda, a few extra flavor enhancers and the willingness to put them all together to make a pleasing pick-me-up.

Half the fun of imbibing one of these liquid delights is designing it to your own specifications. Do as we did. Pick a couple of fruits you like, puree them in a blender, then try adding several different beverages to see which is most appealing. We found a sweet Muscat Alexandria wine blended beautifully with strawberries. Fresh pineapple and canned lychees tasted wonderful when a little rum was added before the combination was blended to an icy froth with ice cubes. Pureed mangoes that were blended with vanilla ice cream and tequila made a smashing cooler for a hot, sunny day by the pool.

If you prefer non-alcoholic drinks, pureed fruits will provide some extra zip for herbal ice teas, or try a delicious citrus-apple juice combination we found in the Sunkist Kitchens' new cookbook, "Cooking With Sunshine" (Atheneum: $24.95). Called Lemon Appleade, the recipe provides a basic mixture that is stored in the refrigerator. When you're thirsty, all you do is add water or club soda and some ice cubes to the base and you'll have a most refreshing beverage.

One of the recipes that follows calls for "orange melon," a type of melon with which you may not be familiar. It actually has been around for a number of years, but only recently has it become more popular. Until now it has been known as the orange honeydew or pink honeydew since the texture and taste of the melon are similar to that of the honeydew, although the pinkish-orange flesh is a far different color from the honeydew's delicate lime green flesh.

Orange Melon Not a Honeydew

Technically, however, according to the Fresh Produce Council's weekly newsletter, the orange melon isn't a honeydew and for that reason it doesn't have to conform to the California Department of Food and Agriculture's rules and regulations governing the production of honeydews. So the CDFA has decreed that the orange melon cannot be called a honeydew. In so doing they have created a bit of confusion for supermarket produce buyers and consumers because there doesn't seem to be any agreed-upon new name for the not-quite-honeydew melon.

So you may find it in your market still tagged as an orange-flesh honeydew or as an orange-flesh melon or simply as an orange melon. This is one of those times when your most reliable solution may be to simply ask your produce person which melon is the one you want.

Use the recipes that follow as guides to amounts and types of combinations that work well together. Then add a personal touch or two to suit your own taste. Try a bit of cinnamon here . . . a hint of mint there. Eventually you'll come up with a delicious cooling concoction that exactly suits your taste. And thereafter you'll have the perfect refreshing drink for those all-too-rare moments of relaxation.

ORANGE MELON WINE COOLER

2 cups white Gamay Beaujolais

1 cup orange melon puree

2 tablespoons sugar

Juice of 1/2 lime

Combine wine, melon puree, sugar and lime juice and blend well. Chill thoroughly, or serve over ice cubes. Makes 3 drinks.

KIWI COOLER

2 cups Chablis

3 very ripe kiwis, peeled and sieved

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon lime juice

Combine wine, kiwi puree, sugar and lime juice. Chill well or serve over ice cubes. Makes 3 drinks.

STRAWBERRY COOLER

2 cups Muscat Alexandria or other sweet white wine

2 cups strawberries

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 cup ice cubes

Combine wine and strawberries in blender and puree. Strain. Add sugar and lime juice to wine mixture and return to blender. Add ice cubes and blend until thick and frothy. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

PINEAPPLE-LYCHEE-RUM COOLER

4 cups chopped fresh pineapple

1 (20-ounce) can seeded lychees in syrup

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 to 1/3 cup light rum

2 cups ice cubes

Puree pineapple and lychees with syrup in blender. Add sugar and rum and blend well. Blend half of pineapple mixture with 1 cup ice cubes until frothy. Repeat with remaining pineapple mixture and ice cubes. Serve at once. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

MANGO COOLER

3 mangoes, peeled, seeded and pureed

1/2 pint vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup tequila

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups ice cubes

Combine mango puree, ice cream, tequila and sugar in blender and blend well. Add ice cubes and blend until thick and frothy. Serve at once. Makes about 4 servings.

ORANGE COOLER

1 cup fresh orange juice

1 cup Chenin Blanc

1 tablespoon sugar

Ginger ale

Combine orange juice, wine and sugar and blend well. Fill 4 tall glasses with ice cubes and divide orange mixture among them. Fill glasses to top with ginger ale. Makes 4 servings.

CITRUS KIR

1/4 cup cassis

1 1/4 cups dry white wine

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

Blend cassis, wine, lemon and lime juices and sugar. Chill well or serve over ice cubes. Makes 2 servings.

COOKING WITH SUNSHINE'S LEMON APPLEADE

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup boiling water

Grated peel of 1/2 lemon

Juice of 6 lemons

2 cups chilled apple juice

Water or club soda

Dissolve sugar in boiling water. Add lemon peel, lemon juice and apple juice. Store mixture, covered, in refrigerator until needed.

At serving time, combine 1/2 cup Lemon Appleade base with 1/3 to 1/2 cup water or club soda for each serving. Serve over ice cubes in tall glass. For quantity serving, combine all of base mixture with 1 liter club soda or 4 cups water in pitcher filled with ice cubes. Stir well. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

GOLDEN FRUIT COOLER

2 large peaches

1 orange, peeled

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Lemon or pineapple sherbet

Chilled ginger ale

Orange cartwheels

Fresh mint sprigs

Peel, seed and quarter peaches. Cut orange into segments, removing core and seeds. Place peaches and orange segments in food processor bowl or blender and blend until smooth. Add lemon juice and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Place 1/2 cup peach mixture in bottom of tall glasses. Add 1 or 2 scoops sherbet and fill glasses with ginger ale. Garnish with orange cartwheels and sprigs of mint. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Apricots, nectarines or grapefruit may be substituted for peaches and orange. Lime sherbet may be used instead of the lemon or pineapple.

PEACH CHILLER

1 1/2 cups water

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup mint leaves, lightly packed

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup orange juice

4 large peaches

2 (10-ounce) bottles ginger beer, chilled

Fresh mint sprigs

Stir water, sugar and honey together in saucepan. Add mint leaves and bring to boil. Simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let steep about 1 hour. Strain, discarding mint leaves. Stir in lemon and orange juices. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Peel and seed 3 peaches, then cut into chunks. Place peach chunks in food processor bowl or blender and puree. (There should be about 2 cups puree.) Combine with fruit syrup.

Fill 12-ounce glasses half-full of ice cubes. Add about 1/2 cup peach base to each. Peel and slice remaining peach and divide slices among glasses. Fill glasses with ginger beer, stirring gently to mix. Garnish with mint sprigs. Makes 5 cups peach base or 10 servings.

HAWAII'S ROYAL TEA

2 quarts cold water

1/3 cup loose tea or 15 tea bags

Fresh mint sprigs

1/3 cup sugar

Juice of 3 lemons

1/3 cup pineapple juice

Pineapple spears

Bring 1 quart water to full rolling boil in saucepan. Remove from heat and pour over tea. Stir and let stand 5 minutes. Stir again and strain into pitcher containing 4 sprigs mint, sugar and remaining 1 quart cold water. Stir to dissolve sugar.

Cool tea. Remove mint, then chill, covered, several hours or overnight. Stir in lemon and pineapple juices. To serve, pour tea over ice cubes in tall glasses. Garnish each with pineapple spear and mint sprig. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

ICE TEA COOLER

1 cup boiling water

4 tea bags

4 cups cold water

1 cup lemon juice

1 cup orange juice

Light corn syrup or honey

1 (1-liter) bottle ginger ale, chilled

Lemon slices

Pour boiling water over tea bags and let steep 3 minutes. Strain. Combine cold water and lemon and orange juices and add to tea. Sweeten to taste with corn syrup. Chill thoroughly. When ready to serve, stir in ginger ale and pour over ice cubes in tall glasses. Garnish with lemon slices. Makes about 2 1/2 quarts.

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