We’ll start with a basic lemonade recipe and then move on to adding some zing
When making lemonade there is a standard rule of thumb, 5-1-1. That’s 5 parts water, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part sugar. For our purposes we’ll say we’re using cups.
To get started, we need to make a simple syrup. This is equal parts sugar and water. Mix 1 cup of water and 1 cup sugar in a sauce pan. Stir well, we want the sugar dissolved. Now place on medium heat. We want to just bring it to a boil while stirring the whole time.
Be careful while stirring, adding sugar increases the boiling point, water boils at 212 deg F (100 deg C), but if you let the syrup boil too long the temperature continues to rise, so don’t splash any on your hands, I have a few scars to prove it hurts.
While the syrup is cooling, squeeze your lemons. You get about 3 tablespoons of juice per lemon, so for a cup you will need to juice about 6 lemons. One trick to getting the most juice from your lemons is to roll the lemon on a hard surface with a good amount of pressure.
This kind of smashes the pulp so it’s easier to get all of the juice. If you really, really don’t want to squeeze your own lemons, don’t buy reconstituted lemon juice. If it’s expiration date isn’t in the near future, like 2 weeks, then it isn’t fresh lemon juice. I have a bottle of lemon juice in my fridge that my wife bought 2 years ago and doesn’t have an expiration date at all. I think it’s still safe to use, but I don’t know for sure because I won’t use it J
Now mix the lemon juice, the sugar syrup, and the remaining water in a large pitcher or jug. Taste. If it’s too sour add a little more sugar, it it’s too sweet add a little more lemon juice, if it’s too sweet and too sour, add more water.
Throw it in the refrigerator when you feel the taste is perfect. If you plan on drinking the lemonade immediately, take out 2 cups of water and add 2 to 3 cups of ice instead.
Enjoy! Wasn’t that easy?
So now lets spruce it up a little. The possibilities are endless when we’re talking citrus and sugar. Pink lemonade, strawberry limeade, and my favorite, honey ginger lemonade.
The history of this drink is kind of shady. There are 2 stories of it’s origin and neither are very mouth watering. One story says that the originator dropped some red cinnamon candies into his batch of regular lemonade.
The other says the originator ran out of fresh water and used water that had pink stockings soaking in it. My great-grandmother used to add grapefruit juice and slices to her pink lemonade. I recommend adding 1 cup of cranberry juice to the above recipe and adding another ½ cup of sugar.
This spin on the classic is incredible! Use the above recipe, but replace the lemons with limes. You will need about 8 limes. I only like to use strawberries when they are fresh and from a local farm, I’m kind of a locavore food snob. So when they aren’t available I use frozen. This has an added benefit.
I use the frozen strawberries like ice cubes, but you will want to thaw some in advance to get that strawberry flavor blended into the limeade or it could be too sour. If you really like to spice things up, I add 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, cut lengthwise and seeded. Any mild pepper will do, but the pepper needs to steep overnight to really bring out the flavor.
Honey Ginger Lemonade
My favorite! This does require a whole new recipe from the sample above. It’s a little more complicated, but totally worth the extra time.
1 cup honey
2 quarts water (almost 2 liters)
1 cup lemon juice
¼ cup ginger
The first step is to emulsify the honey. Heat 2 cups of your water in a saucepan, it doesn’t need to boil, just be warm. Then slowly add the honey, stirring vigorously. Add the honey in stages if necessary to ensure it all gets liquefied. If you have a food processor, the best way to prepare the ginger is to peel it, cut it into small chunks about the size of a grape, and puree it with a small amount of water.
Then place the puree in a cheesecloth and squeeze the juice out of the ginger pulp. If you don’t have a food processor, peel the ginger and cut it into thin slices. The ginger will have to steep overnight this way, but it still works fine. The longer the ginger steeps, the more intense it will become, so you can remove it if becomes too strong.
An even easier way to get the ginger flavor is with ginger infused vodka, so whatever works for you is the correct method. Mix everything together and refrigerate for a few hours. This will need to be stirred hard before pouring each time.