Salt beef is a critical part of our province’s famous traditional meal—Jiggs Dinner. But did you know that repurposing the bucket in which it arrives is also part of a tradition?

Yes, we’re talking about Christmas Slush. That often-potent holiday beverage that’s been made for many years in the bays and quays of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Photo by Gayle St. Croix

I say rural because whether slush is in fact a tradition has been hotly debated in recent years and it seems most often that it is those who grew up in the city of St. John’s who did not have a bucket of slush in their freezer come December 24th.

I grew up in Trepassey on the Southern Shore. It’s a part of the province well-recognized for its lingering connections to Ireland—that Irish lilt survives in our voices to this day. But slush doesn’t seem to have any Irish connection.

Indeed, no one can really nail down its origin at all.  It seems to have just appeared in the late ’70s or early ’80s. And with its call for frozen juice concentrate, it is perhaps a result of the influx of convenience foods into communities that would have largely dined on what they caught or grew previously.

I have very distinct memories of my aunt making slush as early as 1985 or 1986. And a quick request to her, as well as a call out on social media, quickly netted me several recipe variations that I’m now sharing with you. Some called for fruit to be added. Others, whipped cream.

But one thing is a constant: to be authentic, it must be made in and served from a (very clean!) beef bucket. Leaning into the deep freeze, grabbing the handle, and pulling out a beef bucket full of icy, sugary goodness before scooping it into your glass is simply part of the experience.

Photo by Gayle St. Croix

Tobin’s Tetley Tea Slush

1¼ cups sugar
7 cups boiling water
12 oz orange juice concentrate
12 oz lemonade juice concentrate
2 Tetley tea bags
26 oz white rum or vodka

Pour boiling water into a clean beef bucket. Add tea bags and steep for two minutes before removing and discarding. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add all other ingredients and stir until incorporated. Freeze, stirring frequently for the first 24 hours. Serve in a tall glass topped with water, ginger ale, or 7-Up.

Fruity Banana Slush

1½ cups sugar
2 ripe bananas
8 cups water
2 cans orange juice concentrate
2 cans lemonade juice concentrate
48 oz pineapple juice
26 oz light rum or vodka

Boil water and sugar for 5 minutes and then let cool. In a blender, combine banana, orange, and lemonade concentrate and blend until smooth. In a clean beef bucket, combine sugar syrup, banana mixture, pineapple juice and alcohol of choice. Freeze, stirring frequently for the first 24 hours. Serve in a tall glass with ginger ale or 7-Up.

Creamsicle Slush

1 litre orange juice
1 litre pineapple juice
1 cup sugar
1 flask vodka
1 flask lemon gin
1 tub of Cool Whip

To a clean beef bucket, add all liquid ingredients, stirring well until sugar dissolves. Add Cool Whip and stir until just combined evenly. Freeze, stirring frequently for the first 24 hours. Serve in a tall glass with Orange Crush for a true creamsicle taste or any mix of your choice.

Singapore Sling Slush

14 oz dry gin
8 oz cherry brandy
½ cup Grenadine
½ cup lemon juice
4 cups boiling water
½ cup sugar
½ cup cherry juice
19 oz pineapple juice

In a clean beef bucket, combine sugar and water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Freeze, stirring frequently for the first 24 hours. Serve in a tall glass with water or ginger ale.

By: Karla Hayward