We’ve been drinking lemonade in America since at least the 1600’s as a simple blend of lemons, water, and sugar. Lemonade is a summer tradition, and along with apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, Chili, and Barbecue is an important symbol of our nation.
Learn to make these traditional foods from scratch, and teach your children about them. Currently, there are many American traditions and norms that have been in place for centuries being not just eroded, but erased. Part of the way a culture is sustained and preserved is through its cuisine.
Let’s start off with the list of basic ingredients you will need to make the various lemonades…
The best results will come from fresh citrus. Use lemons, limes, and oranges. You can get even better results for Myer lemons, or Key limes. Myer’s lemons are a sweeter lemon, and key limes are small and sweeter. Start with a sweeter citrus, and you will not have to add as much sugar.
A shortcut can be taken with high quality lime or lemon juice concentrate. IMO, the best are Italia Garden Lemon and Italia Garden Lime Juices. The flavor of both are bright and intense. For a powdered lemonade or limeade mix, try True Lemon or True Lime crystals, or a sample of their flavors including orange and grapefruit.
You may need to add a sweetener to the True Citrus and the Italia juices if you are using a higher ratio of citrus to water, vs., flavored water containing only a few drops or dashes.
Turbinado sugar, aka raw sugar is obtained from the first pressing of the sugar cane during the sugar making process. It is minimally processed, and had close as you can get to chewing on a piece of sugar cane. In other words, it is Virgin Sugar.
Raw sugar is slightly heathier than white sugar. Raw sugar contains some minerals, specifically small amounts of potassium, calcium, and iron, not just empty calories. Sugar is not bad for you; it is required by every cell in your body. However, just as every cell in your body needs water, too much will drown you from the inside out. Too much sugar is also bad for you. Use sugar as a flavoring; not a major ingredient the way it is used in processed foods. The results will be healthier and taste better.
Raw sugar can be made into simple syrup for lemonade and other beverages. Combine equal amounts of water and raw sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool, and pour into a clean bottle or jar. It should keep indefinitely, either at room temperature, or in the fridge. Watch for growth of mold; I had this happen once with refrigerated sugar syrup after about six months; this is unusual.
Honey and maple syrup are also healthier alternatives. As they are sweeter, you need less to sweeten a beverage. They will also lend a unique flavor other than just sweetness.
Honey is much more than a sweetener. Honey contains small amounts of B vitamins, some amino acids, and a variety of minerals and antioxidants.
Maple syrup is also more than just a sweetener; it contains high amounts of manganese, as well as other minerals, antioxidants, and the B vitamin riboflavin. Honey syrup can be made by boiling equal parts of honey and water. This is also the time to infuse the mix with macerated herbs or fruit to make interesting flavor combinations.
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Plain flat tap or bottled water, or carbonated water, plain or flavored can be used. If using carbonated water, polar seltzers are an excellent choice, especially the lemon or lime flavors.
Fruit (cucumbers are technically a fruit) or herbs can be added to make some interesting flavors.
- Honeydew melon
- Paring Knife for slicing citrus fruits.
- A reamer to juice citrus fruits
- A Strainer to pour the juice through and strain out the seeds. Stick the seeds about a ¼ inch into a pot of moist dirt. Give it a few weeks in a sunny window and you will see sprouts poking out of the dirt. You will eventually grow a fragrant little lemon plant.
- Mason jar or pitcher to store and serve your Ades. I really like using mason jars. There is something about the rustic look that makes things taste better.
- Wooden spoon for stirring and macerating
Nine Delicious and Refreshing Lemonade (and other-ade) recipes
Note that these Ades tend to be tarter then than commercially prepared Ades. Embrace the bright intensity of citrus instead of the sickening cloying, tongue coating sweetness of sugar.
1) Mason jar lemonade or limeade
This is as simple as it gets.
- Slice two lemons or limes in half.
- Squeeze the juice into a pint mason jar.
- Add a spoonful of turbinado sugar.
- Slice another lemon or lime into rounds and add to the jar.
- Fill with cold water.
- Drink from the jar.
- Smack your lips hard and say Arrg after each sip. Get medieval and pass the jar to the next person for a swig. Trigger any sensitive types in the area.
2) Quick Lemonade or Limeade
- One quart of cold water
- 2 oz. lime juice and or 2 oz. lemon juice
- 1 oz. simple syrup or honey syrup
Mix ingredients into water, stir, and serve over ice.
3) Quick Lemonade or Limeade mix
- True Lime and/or True Lemon crystals mixed with raw sugar at a 2:1 ratio
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight sealed container to use as needed. Stir desired amount into water, stir, and serve over ice. This should keep indefinitely as long as you keep moisture out.
4) Sparkling lemonade
- One liter of lemon seltzer
- Juice of three lemons
- 2 tbsp. raw sugar
Use a liter of lemon seltzer in place of cold water. Add the lemon juice and sugar gradually so it doesn’t foam over. I don’t advise shaking to mix it. Gently stir it instead.
- Juice of 4 Limes
- 2 Oz. Simple syrup
- One quart of water
- Add crushed fresh basil and/or mint or sliced cucumbers.
- Make with molasses syrup for a Caribbean flavor. This is easily converted to a cocktail with the addition of dark or black rum.
- Mix with water at a 4:1 ratio and add a dash of kosher salt or sea salt you have an electrolyte drink.
6) Citrus Punch
- 2 quart pitcher
- 1 oz. Lemon Juice, fresh or bottled
- 2 oz. Lime juice, fresh or bottled
- 2 pints high pulp Orange juice
- 2 pints pink grapefruit juice
- Slices of lemon, lime, and orange
Mix fruit juices together. Add sliced lemon, lime, and orange. To serve, pour over ice. You shouldn’t need to add any sugar as the OJ will supply it.
- This can also be made into an electrolyte drink. Add one cup of citrus punch to one quart of water. Add a ¼ tsp. of sea salt or kosher salt. Salt and lime are made for each other.
- To make a cocktail, add one shot of white rum, and one shot of triple sec to 8 oz. of citrus punch.
7. Hard Lemonade
Combine two oz. of good whiskey, two oz. of lemon juice, and one oz. of simple syrup. Pour over crushed ice in a Rocks glass and garnish with a lemon slice.
Bitter ale or IPA & lemonade. Mix equal parts beer and lemonade together for a low alcohol, refreshing drink.
9) Cucumber lemonade (see above)
The addition of cucumbers gives this lemonade a subtle cool, herbal taste. This is so good ice cold on a hot summer day.
- One quart jar or pitcher
- Juice of three lemons
- 1 sliced lemon
- 1 large cucumber
- 3 tbsp. raw sugar
Slice the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the jar. Slice another lemon into rounds or wedges and put in the jar. Slice the cucumber and add to the jar. Add the raw sugar, and fill with cold water. Shake well. For best results, let it sit in the fridge overnight.
The lemon slices and cucumber will infuse the water, giving it the best flavor. To serve, pour over ice with a slice of cucumber and a slice of lemon for a garnish. This is also very good as a limeade.
Bonus recipe: White Sangria
- One bottle of Chablis, Moscato, or Riesling
- One cup of fresh Pineapple chunks
- Two sliced Limes.
- 1 oz. Simple syrup
Peel a fresh pineapple and cut into chunks. Place one cup of pineapple into pitcher. Reserve the rest for another use. Slice limes and add to pitcher. Put in a one ounce shot of simple syrup. Macerate the fruit with a wooden spoon. Pour wine over fruit. Serve cold. Drink promptly or remove limes, as lime peel will turn the sangria bitter in a few hours.