Quick Juneteenth History Lesson
If you’re not familiar with Juneteenth, let me give you a quick history lesson. Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law on January 1, 1863. Lincoln said he intended to save the union rather than to abolish slavery in an open letter to New York Tribute editor Horace Greeley. Despite Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation into law, states like Texas didn’t inform slaves they were free until two years after the Proclamation! On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger finally read orders in Galveston, Texas, that all formerly enslaved people in Texas were pronounced free.
In 1866, the year after Granger’s order, African Americans celebrated their first Juneteenth anniversary. And in 1872, a group of former slaves put together $800 to purchase 10 acres of land in Houston, Texas, for the city’s annual Juneteenth celebrations. They named the space Emancipation Park and to this day Juneteenth celebrations are still held here. As of today only 45 states and D.C, recognize the day as a state holiday.
So Traditionally, red drinks and red foods are a must at Juneteeth celebrations and barbecues, because red symbolizes resilience. Although I grew up in the Caribbean, I have family members in the South that celebrated Juneteenth and shared its history and Southern recipes with me. One of my favorite drinks is Juneteenth Strawberry Soda. I have substituted a few of their ingredients to better suit my taste.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE MY JUNETEENTH STRAWBERRY SODA:
Fresh Strawberries (1lb) I use sliced strawberries as a garnish for the drink. But my relatives use slice strawberries to make a quick and simple strawberry syrup. I’ll leave the recipe below.
Simply Lemonade with Strawberry Juice (4 cups): My relatives used a strawberry lemonade mix to create this drink, but I prefer Simply Lemonade instead.
Lemon-lime Soda (1 cup) : I add Sprite for a little bit of bubbly. If you choose to use the strawberry lemonade mix, you can use water, strawberry soda, lemon-lime soda, or if you want to cut down on calories, use tonic water, seltzer, sparkling. Whatever floats your boat!
Sprigs of Fresh Mint: There’s nothing like adding fresh mint! For one, it makes me feel fancy. It also brings a pop of color and also adds the refreshing kiss that mint brings to any drink.
Liqueur (1.5 cups): It also You can use your favorite strawberry liqueur or vodka. I’m more of a rum gal so I use my favorite Cruzan Estate White Light Rum or Cruzan Strawberry Rum if I have it in stock.
**Omit the rum if you want to make this family-friendly**
Traditional Juneteenth Recipe
JUNETEENTH STRAWBERRY SODA
- 1-liter lemon-lime or strawberry soda
- 1 1/2 cups strawberry lemonade mix
- 1 cup homemade strawberry syrup
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and sliced in half
- fresh sprigs of mint
- Make the strawberry lemonade by combining the strawberry lemonade mix with the strawberry soda or lemon-lime soda instead of water.
- Stir in the homemade strawberry syrup (see recipe below), fresh strawberries, and fresh sprigs of mint.
- Taste and adjust sweetness to your liking.
- Pour and Serve over ice.
HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY SYRUP RECIPE
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup fresh strawberries cleaned and chopped into quarters
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Place a saucepan over medium heat and add water, sugar, chopped strawberries, and lemon juice.
- Bring mixture to a boil then mash the strawberries with a fork to release the juices.
- Allow the mixture to boil for an extra minute and remove from heat.
- Cover your saucepan and let steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain the syrup into a Mason jar using a fine-mesh sieve.
- Store in the fridge for up to three days.
Now my method definitely takes MAJOR shortcuts in comparison to the traditional recipe!! But, it is delicious and I believe in saving time to enjoy the company of my guests.
Happy Juneteenth & #BLM,