Very few things in life yield such a great reward from such simplicity as making your own lemonade.
The ingredients are pure and uncomplicated: lemons, water, and sugar. The skill required is literally as easy as boiling water.
The pay-off is as sublime as experiencing the taste of nature’s finest refresher. Without further delay here’s how to make lemonade.
Easy Lemonade Recipe
To make lemonade, begin with this easy lemonade recipe.
- One cup sugar
- One cup water
- One and a half cups freshly squeezed lemon juice with the seeds removed
- One quart cold water
- Ice is optional
1) Dissolve the sugar in one cup of water and bring to a boil.
2) Stir until all sugar is dissolved.
This amount of sugar optimizes the natural lemon flavor. For sweeter lemonade, increase the sugar by up to a half-cup.
3) Allow the syrup to cool. It will be thin.
4) Add lemon juice and cold water.
6) Serve cold or over ice.
Yields six servings.
A medium-sized lemon usually renders about one-quarter cup of juice, or one serving of full-bodied lemonade.
It seems deceptively simple, but there are a few tricks of the trade that can boost the results from excellent to amazing.
The first trick is to make sure that the sugar gets completely dissolved. The best way to do this is to heat equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan and stir until the mixture comes to a boil.
Choose lemons with smooth unblemished skins. Lemons that feel heavy for their size will have the most juice.
Rolling the lemons on a hard surface or between your palms immediately before squeezing them loosens the pulp and gives a higher yield of juice.
Lemons also yield more juice at room temperature than when refrigerated. Microwaving a lemon briefly, 5 -10 seconds, can also make it easier to extract more juice, but too much heat will affect the flavor.
Pulp is generally considered to be the quintessential hallmark of quality lemonade, but there are occasions when pulp is undesirable. Strain the lemonade through cheesecloth or with a sieve.
Many kinds of lemon juicers, squeezers, and reamers are on the market. You can always squeeze a lemon by hand, but if you make lemonade regularly, have a lot of lemons to squeeze, or are coping with an arthritic condition, you may want to invest in one of these devices. Choose one that is easy to clean and does not trap pulp.
If you live in an area with hard water, use bottled water because the acidic lemon juice will react with any carbonates in tap water and affect the taste.
Making Lemonade Tips
A pinch of salt suppresses bitterness better than sugar, and surprisingly, salt even makes some foods taste sweeter. It does not take much to get this effect. 1/8 teaspoon for a half-gallon of lemonade is adequate.
Lemons make their own best garnish. Dress up a lemonade glass by cutting thin lemon slices from the ‘equator’ of each lemon and set these aside before squeezing the rest of the fruit. The slices can be dredged in sugar or used plain as garnish.
Lemon zest can add a bite to lemonade. The zest is the outer yellow part of the peel.
Lemon zest is often a desirable addition when lemonade is used as a mixer in alcoholic beverages. There are specialty tools that will remove it in long threads, but for the small amount used for garnishing lemonade, a sharp vegetable peeler will work as well. If you wish to add lemon zest as a garnish, it is easier to remove it before squeezing the lemon.
A kid-safe variation on the basic recipe is to stir in the sugar directly into the lemonade without first making the syrup.
Most kids won’t notice the subtle change in flavor, and this eliminates the danger of burns. Using this method also saves time and avoids the extra clean-up from using an additional pan.
Making Pink Lemonade
Pink lemonade is a special treat and makes an especially attractive punchbowl at women’s and girls’ parties. The most common natural method for achieving a lovely pink color is to add a splash of grape juice. Cranberry or raspberry juice may be substituted. A drop or two of red food coloring is sometimes used, but this gives a peachier pink.
Some lemon varieties, such as Meyer and Valley lemons, have been cultivated to be less tart. Adjust the amount of sugar accordingly if using one of these.
Homemade lemonade is truly one of life’s little luxuries. It can grace the table at the most elegant luncheon and be equally appreciated when shared with a neighbor over a backyard fence.
The few minutes of extra effort it takes to fresh-squeeze a lemon delivers a taste so superior to reconstituted lemonade that you can’t help but feel special when you drink it.