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For months Branden and I have been trying to get our blog off the ground with basic designs and meaningful text in between raising several children. The truth of that is if we wait for the “perfect” time to launch our site it will never happen. Life is the stuff that happens in between the blank moments so to be true to our page we just need to take the big jump and launch! Otherwise we won’t really be true to the title of our site 😉
Late September 2014, Branden and I were doing yard work (we live in the south so mowing the yard lasts through October most years) and decided to be silly. We took pictures of us doing our yard and enjoying some homemade lemonade which is honestly our favorite yard working drink because it keeps us hydrated and feels just divine at the end of a particularly hot and trying day. On that particular day we decided our first post should be a little tongue in cheek- sharing my favorite lemonade recipe as well as my back up recipes for when life has us juggling a few dozen lemons and there is no time for 100% homemade. So without further ado, here is my most favorite way to make lemonade (when time allows) as well as a few of other options that work well for our busy life.
1 to 1 ½ cups white sugar
8 cups water
1 ½ cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (takes 9 to 12 small lemons)
Other Items You Will Need:
Pairing knife (or a small knife with a sharp blade)
Bowl to collect juice in
Small pan to cook the water and sugar in
Container to store the juice in
1. Wash and dry the lemons. To get the most juice from each lemon roll them back and forth on a cutting board. Halve one lemon to start with and taste the juice. If the juice from the lemon is bitter then use 1 ½ cups of sugar but if the lemon is slightly sweet then only 1 cup of sugar will be needed.*
2. Before you squeeze the lemons, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Set the stove temperature to a medium heat and wait for it to start to boil. You may need to stir several times to make sure the sugar is dissolving properly. Once all the sugar is dissolved you will want to pull it from the heat and add the lemon juice.
3. While you are waiting for the sugar to dissolve begin to juice the lemons. If you do not have a juicer do not fret. Halve about 9 to 12 lemons (if you cook frequently with lemons set aside the rinds**). Hold half a lemon and take a pairing knife to cut the fruit just at the edge near the rind. Then squeeze your lemon halves over the strainer into the bowl to collect the juice. If you do not have a strainer then just squeeze over the bowl and scoop out the seeds when you are done. You can choose to either leave in the lemon pulp or remove it. I prefer to have some of the lemon pulp so I leave it in.
4. Now that your sugar is dissolved and you have enough juice (with or without pulp) you can add it to your now cooling sugar water (syrup). You can cover the syrup and chill or begin to make your lemonade and chill once it is made. Generally I like adding the lemon syrup to the remaining 7 cups of water in my jug then chill for several hours or serve over ice.
* Keep in mind I like a good balance between bitter and sweet. A cup of lemonade that is too sweet is not very good on a hot day and my favorite time to have a nice cold glass of lemonade is on a hot day right after mowing the lawn. After many years of trying various drinks from water to Gatorade we found that lemonade on a hot day really quenched our thirst the best. Some actually believe that vitamin C is linked to staying hydrated.
If you care for more information on foods that help with hydration you can talk with your local herbalist or visit sites like:
** Now that your lemonade is made and chilling you can get back to the rinds you set to the side. I am a penny pincher so I try to find ways to make the best out of the ingredients I have. Usually I just grate my lemon rinds and then freeze the gratings as I use grated lemon peel in baking and cooking.
When we are in a time crunch, which tends to be quite often, I have three other tried and true ways to quench our thirst for lemonade.
1) For a quick pitcher of lemonade, Country Time really is the best but I don’t always have a reason to make up an entire pitcher. So my most used method of making lemonade is by the glass or more appropriately by the 16 oz. bottle. I like using Wyler’s Lemonade packets. Normally I pick up a box of 10 packets for $1 from my local Wal Mart. I typically make up a bottle of lemonade right before Branden and I go out to mow the lawn. I don’t always refrigerate the bottle because room temperature drinks tend to quench thirst better on a hot day. If the drink is too cold then we end up with an upset stomach.
2) There are times when I use store bought lemon juice instead of fresh lemons. I find that not only is store bought lemon juice expensive, it is also more bitter then fresh lemons. The reason is that store bought lemon juice is generally concentrated. You can follow the recipe above but use 1 ½ cups of sugar (or more if you like it sweeter). I also find you don’t necessarily need to make the lemon syrup. You can just use one cup of really hot water to dissolve the sugar. Instead of 1 ½ cups of lemon juice you may only need to use 3 tablespoons so I suggest tasting the lemon juice first to see how strong it is. If it isn’t very strong what I would do is add the 3 tablespoons and the 7 cups of water. Then taste it, if you want a stronger tasting lemonade then add more juice.
3) My third recommendation is True Lemon. A couple of years ago our local supermarket stopped carrying our favorite lemonade drink packets so we went in search of other alternatives. During that time of trial and error we found True Lemon which is crystallized lemon. I found that by using two packets of True Lemon and a teaspoon of sugar I could make a nice glass of lemonade or in our case one 16 oz. bottle.