Childhood memories in the South are filled with tall glasses of icy cold, sweet lemonade after a day in the summer’s heat. A little tart, a lot of sweet, and bright notes that deliver a generous dose of vitamin C and pH-balancing alkaline. Next time you make a refreshing glass of lemonade, consider trying out these secret tips and/or a new recipe that’ll keep things interesting.
The Secret Ingredient
Traditional to Moroccan cooking, preserved lemons add a real depth to the classic lemonade flavor. Preserved lemons can be made at home with two simple ingredients: lemons and kosher salt. However, homemade preserved lemons take about 3-4 weeks to become their rich lemony flavor that’ll wow your taste buds.
How do you use them? Make a lemon syrup with the preserved lemons by combining them with sugar and a little water. Allow the syrup to completely cool, usually about 1 hour. Then, stir the syrup into the fresh lemon juice. Pour this tart, sweet lemon juice mixture over sparkling water with a few ice cubes for a perfected lemonade.
While you are waiting for your lemons to preserve, try out another secret ingredient to perfecting lemonade: ripe lemons. Yep, it is that simple! Keep an eye on your lemons every day until they have a nice bright yellow color with no tinge of green. They shouldn’t be too dry nor mushy but give a little when lightly pressed.
Tips to Easy Lemon Juicing
If you keep your lemons in the fridge, then allow them to come to room temperature before juicing. If you’re in a pinch for time, place the lemons in a large bowl of warm water until at room temperature.
When lemons are at room temperature, their cell membranes are weakened, which means they are easier to squeeze, and more juices can be extracted. If you want to take it a step further, roll each lemon against the countertop using your palm. Afterward, slice both ends off of each lemon without getting into the juice. Then, cut the lemon in half and juice using a citrus press or squeezer.
A little reminder: Buy a few more lemons than you might think you need to be on the safe side. Keep in mind that 5-6 regular lemons will yield approximately 1 cup lemon juice. Additionally, if you plan on buying a large bag of lemons from the grocery store, consider washing each lemon very well to prevent one from getting moldy and ruining the whole batch.
Amazing Combination Worth Trying
Making simple fruit syrups and purees adds great flavor to a classic lemonade recipe. The best part? You don’t need to adjust the sugar levels since the fresh berries have all their needed sweetness naturally. If using fresh fruit, you may even be able to reduce the amount of sugar added since it will naturally tame the tartness of lemons on their own.
- Mint, Cucumber, and Melon
- Mango & Mint with a splash of Lime Juice
- Strawberry & Basil
- Peaches & Rosemary
- Raspberry & Watermelon
- Blueberry & Lavender
- Coconut & Orange (substitute some of the water with coconut water) Ginger & Honey (substitute the sugar with honey)
- Sparkling Strawberry (create a strawberry fruit syrup to mix with the fresh lemon juice, then stir with sparkling water)
- Carrot Lemonade (simply add carrot juice)
If you’re on the hunt for a classic lemonade recipe, then look no further! Use this simple lemonade recipe as the base for any creative additions mentioned above. It makes 6 servings.
- 1 c. fresh lemon juice, about 5-6 lemons
- 1/3 – 1/2 c. honey, or granulated cane sugar
- 5 c. cold water
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the honey or sugar with 1 cup water until the sweetener has dissolved in the water. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- Add to the freshly squeezed lemon juice and remaining water.
Let’s turn these tart lemons into golden sweetness that can share an opportunity to spread hope.