Lovely Lemonade

lemonade-hiI have always loved lemonade.  It is the ultimate in refreshment for me.  Sweet, tangy, cool – ahhhhhhh.  Right?  Don’t you take a sip of cool lemonade on a hot day and follow it with “ahhhhhhhh?”  Unless it’s from a mix.  Sorry, that just doesn’t cut it for me.  REAL lemonade can be made several ways, but most people agree the simple syrup is the secret (say that ten times fast).  But what if you want your lemonade RIGHT NOW and/or don’t want to bother with the syrup?  I’ve got a few great tips for you!
One is to make a batch of simple syrup and keep it in the refrigerator for the next week’s lemonade emergencies, should they occur.  Then your syrup is ready to go and you can just mix it with your water and lemon juice.  The other is to get out your blender.  Put in your sugar and then add an equal amount of hot water to dissolve the sugar.  Blend a bit.  Add cold water and lemon juice and blend again.  Pour over ice.
Our family’s newest lemonade discovery is to start as described above, adding sugar, hot water and then lemon juice to the blender.  Then add lots of ice (if you’re sure your blender can handle crushing ice) and blend.  The result is a frozen lemonade that cannot be beat.
My last lemonade tip is to add a pinch of salt.  It really makes the citrus flavors pop. Since it’s just a pinch there’s no saltiness.  On the practical side, if you’ve been working hard in the garden, out for a jog, or doing anything in the summer heat, the salt will help re-hydrate you more effectively.
While lemonade is the classic accompaniment to your summer picnics and barbecues, classic doesn’t have to mean boring.  You can easily add a little flair to create a new summertime favorite.  Here are a few ideas that can be done simply to give your lemonade punch.
  • Berries – cook into the syrup and strain OR mash/blend berries and then strain the berry purée and add the juice to the lemonade.
  • Lavender – infuse lavender buds in your syrup and then strain before making your lemonade
  • Popsicles- freeze your lemonade into molds
  • frozen lemonade – see above
  • add other citrus – limeade is actually my favorite.  But you can just substitute some lime juice, grapefruit juice or orange juice for the lemon juice in your favorite recipe. Though if using sweeter citrus, you may want to reduce the sugar.
  • with tea – customize your own Arnold Palmer with your favorite iced tea
  • with hibiscus tea – a variation on pink lemonade
  • Watermelon – a little extra watermelon left after that picnic?  Get creative!  You could freeze it in cubes and substitute those for some of your ice cubes in the frozen lemonade recipe.  Or blend up the watermelon, strain, and add it to lemonade.
  • Vanilla – Not my favorite because I feel it counters the tartness of the lemons, but I could see this being a nice treat.  Just add a little vanilla extract to your lemonade.  Or go all-out gourmet and steep a vanilla bean in your simple syrup.
  • sparkling water – used instead of regular water for a fizzy treat
  • Mint – you can just add mint leaves to your simple syrup, or even add some mint leaves to prepared lemonade.  Or perhaps try making mint tea and mixing it with your lemonade.  Give it a try with lemon balm, as well.
  • With Kombucha – Hippie Arnold Palmer?
  • Cucumber – steep a few cucumbers in your lemonade.  Extra refreshing.
  • Ginger – steep grated ginger in your syrup. Or if you’re skipping the syrup or using pre-made syrup, squeeze some juice from fresh ginger and add it.  A little goes a long way!
  • Pineapple- mix in pineapple juice for a tropical treat
  • Play with your sweeteners – try honey, Stevia, natural sugars.  Most of these will need to mixed into a syrup with hot water to dissolve.
  • Rosemary or basil – steep in syrup or add some leaves and steep in the cold prepared drink for just a touch of flavor
  • Rhubarb – another pink lemonade.  Cook down the rhubarb with sugar and water and then strain.  Add lemon juice and serve over ice.

And don’t forget to make your lemonade a little more concentrated than you prefer so that when you serve it over ice, it’s juuuust riiiiiight!

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