When I was growing up in Virginia, there was a certain summer date after which shoes were optional. Our shoes were promptly ditched, not to be heard from again until fall, and my friends and I proceeded to run around the neighborhood like barbarians. After hours spent playing and exploring outside, we’d head in for snacks and our refreshment of choice, lemonade. Since my daughter is a city kid, she won’t be removing her shoes for play anytime soon (in New York? Ewww). But she’ll still run around at the park, splash in sprinklers, and ride her scooter all over the neighborhood. And when she comes home, I’ll have snacks and some homemade lemonade ready to go.
This is lemonade worth working up a sweat for. With fresh squeezed lemon juice and a hint of real mint, it’s possibly the most refreshing drink ever. Great for an afternoon cool-down, or a fancy summer party. Herbs such as rosemary, lavender, or tarragon would also be delicious lemonade additions. If, like me, you can’t get enough herbed lemonade, check out our recipe for rosemary-infused lemonade popsicles here.
A note on lemon juice: Just like orange juice, but even more so, fresh squeezed is the way to go. I have a manual citrus juicer, and it took maybe 20 minutes to juice all the lemons. Be sure to wash and then roll them before juicing. I put all the pulp into a strainer as I go along so as to get the most juice possible out of each lemon.
makes roughly 2 quarts
1 cup sugar
1 cup water, plus 3 or 4 cups more
5 sprigs of fresh mint, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (roughly 10 small lemons)
several lemon slices for garnish
The best way to sweeten lemonade is by making a simple syrup. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and stir in one cup of sugar until dissolved. Add the mint sprigs* and allow them to steep for 10 – 15 minutes, while the mixture cools.
In a large pitcher, combine the lemon juice and simple syrup. Add two cups of water, stir, and taste. Add up to 2 more cups of water, depending on how sweet or strong you like your lemonade. If you will be serving over lots of ice, you may want to keep it on the strong side since the ice will dilute it.
Serve over ice with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint.
*sub in any preferred herb here.
For even more lemony goodness check out the “Top 30 Lemon Recipes for Summer!”