Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
My daughter got married last month, and my cousin’s daughter is getting married in June. That means we’ve had a nice spell of fun showers and parties.
We have some traditional favorites that are must-haves for our party table, including cheese straws and tender homemade mints shaped into pretty pink roses and green leaves by my cousin Martha Cayton. Miniature heart-shaped lemon cakes from Mama’s recipe have now been added to the menu, thanks to my sister, Susan Hoffman.
Another traditional treat is a delicious, icy fruit punch that my family has been making for decades.
I remember Mama and two of my aunts, Margaret and Lottie, making the punch for parties when I was a little girl. Sometimes they dyed it green to match the party theme, but usually it’s the natural yellow from the pineapple juice, orange juice and lemonade in the recipe.
That punch recipe was served at my bridal shower, my wedding, my baby shower and my daughter’s wedding shower. It’s also been a mainstay for our family’s Christmas Eve celebration with my mama’s family. No one ever cares if it’s cold outside; we still want that icy punch.
We’ve served it from heirloom crystal punch bowls, borrowed silver punch bowls and plastic mixing bowls from our cabinets. Sometimes we drink it from pretty glass punch cups, but more often we drink it from red Solo cups at informal gatherings.
The recipe is not hard to make, but you have to think ahead so it can freeze.
My husband, Reggie, and I like to make it together. The recipe makes a lot, so to mix it, we use the same very large pot I pull down each Christmas to make Brunswick stew. Once it’s all mixed, we divide it into gallon freezer bags and place them in the freezer.
When we made punch this month for cousin Emily Cayton’s bridal shower, we made a double recipe — one recipe at a time — storing it in six gallon freezer bags. I made two recipes because I always worry I won’t have enough!
On the day of the shower, I took the punch out of the freezer, leaving two bags on the kitchen counter at the venue so the punch could start the thawing process. I didn’t want the punch to thaw completely, just start the process so the punch would be easier to chop.
After about 90 minutes, I took the frozen block of punch from the bag and moved it to a large bowl. I started breaking off pieces of the punch with the same chopper I use to make biscuits and chop green fresh beans. Martha, who is Emily’s mama, found a knife and cut off some large pieces that made it more manageable. I started adding in ginger ale to make it easier to chop. Once the first bag was ready for the punch bowl, I chopped the second bag, and an hour into the party, I chopped a third bag, or one recipe. I used just over two 2-liter bottles of ginger ale for the three gallon bags of punch.
We all enjoyed the punch at the shower, and I don’t think I was the only once who had seconds (or maybe thirds.)
2 (12-ounce) cans frozen orange juice
2 (12-ounce) cans frozen lemonade
1 (46-ounce) can pineapple juice
14 (12-ounce) cans of water
Sugar to taste (this can vary from none to 2 cups; I used 1 1/2 cups)
2 2-liter bottles of ginger ale (I had a third bottle and used a little bit from that bottle; but 2 is probably plenty.)
In a large bowl, mix together orange juice, lemonade, pineapple juice, water and sugar until lemonade and orange juice dissolve and everything is well blended. Pour into gallon freezer bags or plastic containers and freeze.
Before serving, take out and thaw slightly. Chop to desired consistency, adding ginger ale a little at a time as you chop.
You can also skip the freezing step and serve the liquid punch over crushed ice.
NOTE: I made a double recipe, mixing one at a time, but I only used one recipe at the shower. We had around 30 people at the shower, many drinking more than one cup, and had quite a bit of punch left over. We probably could have served 50.