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Fresh Lemonade

“You’re going to do a blog post on Fresh Lemonade???” asked my daughter.

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Yes.  Yes I am.  “But isn’t lemonade just sugar, water and lemon juice???” she persisted, having made her own juicy concoctions in the past. Pretty much. But you can make good lemonade and not so good lemonade. This is going to be good lemonade.

This Fresh Lemonade uses a lemon simple syrup which makes for an easy and delicious drink. A basic simple syrup uses one part water to one part sugar. I often make a plain simple syrup if we’re serving a crowd and I’ve got iced tea on the beverage menu. A simple syrup is great because you never have to worry about trying to dissolve sugar into a cold liquid, stirring and stirring until you only get most of it dissolved. You just add the syrup and stir to combine. Easy. For lemonade, the same holds true. Make a lemon simple syrup and mix it up with water and ice and you’ll have some delicious lemonade.

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Simple syrup is extremely easy to make. For this recipe, I used a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a cup of sugar. (You may only use freshly squeezed juice for this, nothing out of a bottle or lemon shaped container. It’s a lemonade law; don’t break it :) Some recipes add water to this mixture, but I wanted a concentrated lemon syrup. There’s plenty of time for water later.

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Heat those two simple ingredients over low to med low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely melted/dissolved into the lemon juice. The mixture will get hot but it won’t be on the heat long enough to boil or even simmer. It only takes a few minutes and you’ll see when you let the syrup drip off of your spoon that the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove it and let it cool. That’s it!

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So here’s some great things about making a lemon simple syrup:

  • Need a whole pitcher of lemonade in a flash? With syrup on hand, it’s just a quick stir away. No waiting for powdered mixes/sugars to dissolve, no squeezing fresh lemons (that’s already done.)
  • It’s also great if you’re short on space in the refrigerator before a party. The simple syrup takes up just a little space. Later, you can mix up an icy pitcher just before your guests arrive.
  • You can make each glass of lemonade to an individual’s taste. Like it sweet? Add more syrup. Like it less sweet? Don’t add as much.
  • You want to make a fresh lemon soda? Add some to plain seltzer.
  • Love lemony iced tea?  Use it as your sweetener. Or make half iced tea and half lemonade and you’ve got yourself an Arnold Palmer. (It’s great for sweetening hot tea, too!)
  • It’s perfect to add to your favorite cocktail.
  • You can brush it on cakes or quick breads to add flavor and moisture.

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I pretty much drink water and unsweetened tea and my kids don’t drink soda and rarely drink sugary drinks, so this is a nice summery treat for them. Not being a big sweet beverage drinker, I can’t give you the “perfect” ratio of syrup to water once you decide to make your beverage of choice. A little bit goes a long way for me. You might start with a tablespoon and work your way up from there until you’ve reached your ideal lemony sweetness.

Having finished taking my photos, I offered up the beautifully garnished glass of Fresh Lemonade to my daughter. She took a sip and said, “Mom, this is really good Lemonade!”

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Yep. Told ya so ;)

 

Fresh Lemonade

Taste your lemons before you begin. You want a fresh true lemon citrus flavor, not a bitter sour lemon. The better tasting your fresh lemons are, the better tasting your syrup will be.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice about 8 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Optional garnish ideas:
  • fresh fruit citrus slices, berries
  • herbs like mint basil, thyme

Instructions

  1. In a small sauce pan, heat sugar and lemon juice over low to medium heat until sugar has completely dissolved/melted. The mixture will get hot but not hot enough to simmer or boil. Allow to cool.
  2. Once cool transfer to a clean storage container, cover and refrigerate.
  3. To make lemonade, mix desired amount of syrup with water to taste. Add fresh fruit and or herb garnishes, if desired.

Recipe Notes

*For the smoothest syrup, pour the lemon juice through a mesh strainer when you add it to the sauce pan to eliminate any bits of seeds or pulp that may have remained in the juice. I strain it again once it's ready to be poured into it's final storage container.

*You can halve, double or triple this recipe easily. Just keep equal parts of juice and sugar.

*You MUST use freshly squeezed lemon juice in the recipe. Any juice you buy in a bottle or other container will have far inferior flavor.

*Advice differs on storage times. I store cooled syrup covered in the refrigerator and try to use it up within a week or two.

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