This summer, I’ve decided to take on a new project: I plan to start making—from scratch—all of my family’s favorite beverages. Yes, in an ideal world they would quench their thirst with only fresh spring water and 2% organic milk from a Jersey cow parked in our backyard, but the reality is that my family also likes to drink other things as well. Soda I have nixed, but juice I have not. So I figure if we’re going to indulge in lemonade and other libations once in awhile, why not try and make them ourselves?
This was actually all Belle’s idea, who has been begging me to make lemonade so she can set up a stand and start raking in the dough. Fr our first trial run this weekend we squeezed, by hand, enough lemons to make a cup of juice, and then I made a simple syrup with one cup of water, one cup of raw sugar (Turbindo), and some lemon zest.
The cooled syrup is added to the chilled lemon juice, sweetened to taste, and then water is added. The whole process is a fun mixing project for the kids, and the results are leaps and bounds better than store-bought.
Next up was an amazing blackberry limeade recipe inspired by one I found in the cookbook Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
I used frozen blackberries for now, but with berry season right around the corner (we already have bought our first fragrant and sweet strawberries from our local farm) this is something you can make every weekend with whatever treasures you’ve brought back from your farmer’s market.
It’s a messy job–which will appeal to the kids–so it’s best done outdoors, with lots of newspaper, and a hose nearby.
-You will need about 4 cups of blackberries (I used two bags of Whole Foods frozen and let them thaw first).
-Place the berries on a piece of cheese cloth that’s been doubled over and twist the bundle so you can squeeze out the juice into a non-plastic bowl.
-Keep squeezing until you have about a cup of juice and your newspaper looks like it was witness to an unfortunate buzz saw accident.
-Discard the berry pulp and place the juice in the fridge to chill.
-Make your simple syrup: In a saucepan place one cup of Turbindo sugar, one cup of water, zest of one lime, and a crushed cardamon pod (this ingredient is not essential, but I do think it adds a lovely flavor).
-Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes until it has reduced to a syrup.
-While the sugar is simmering, squeeze your limes. Now the recipe from Screened Doors recommends key limes, and says you will need about 8 of them to get 1/2 cup of needed juice. It took me about 30 of the pinball-sized key limes I found at Whole Foods. So if you are not up for all that squeezing or can’t locate fresh key limes, I would recommend either purchasing a bottle of key lime juice, or just substituting regular limes.
-When your syrup is done, remove from the heat to cool and then pour into small pitcher/measuring cup and place in the fridge to chill.
-When all of your elements are chilled and ready it’s time to bring together your concoction:
-Pour the lime juice and syrup into the blackberry juice and stir to combine (you can choose to add less simple syrup if you don’t want it so sweet.
-Lastly, add ginger ale or plain seltzer and stir gently to further combine.
-Pour over ice and serve with lime wedges, if you’d like.