Making Homemade Lemonade
If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade!
This page is about how to easily make your own delicious, homemade lemonade. By making this light and refreshing drink yourself, you get to avoid synthetic ingredients, high sugar levels and what is sometimes a tragic and complete lack of any actual lemon juice. Lemonade in its most basic form shouldn't have anything in it but lemon juice, a touch of sweetener and pure water.
Lemonade is a favorite with kids that many adults still like but seem to forget about, so why not give it another taste? It's full of vitamin C and pairs up well with a wide range of foods. Swap it in instead of orange juice at breakfast, and let it substitute for the soda at lunch. When lemons are in season, how can you not make lemonade?
Do You Like Lemonade?
What I talk about here is the U.S. version of lemonade, often recalled via the nostalgia of the childhood "lemonade stand."
I wasn't that big on lemonade as a kid. As an adult, I found out I did like it, but only when I can control how sweet or tart it tastes. I think a lot of other people feel the same way about lemonade as I do, as it can be very hard to get the taste you're searching for, even with something that seems as simple as lemonade.
I've learned that lemonade isn't the same in the rest of the world as it is in the United States. In Europe, it tends to be a carbonated drink, almost what Americans would call a lemon soda. You also find lemonade mixed with beer in Europe. Sometimes lemonade contains real lemon juice, and sadly, sometimes it really contains zero percent fruit juice. That's nasty so if you ever buy any pre-made lemonade, always read the labels!
Next, I have to learn to always remember to ask if the lemonade is made in-house when I go to a restaurant. I had two totally different experiences recently where I didn't remember to ask when I ordered. In one case, I was brought a perfect glass of homemade lemonade. Each sip started out with a tart splash on the tongue that then shifted to sweet as you swallowed and I could see real pulp on the rim of the glass. In the other instance, I was brought a can of commercial, pre-made bleech... That'll learn me!
Lemonade Trick #1
Soak your lemons in hot water before you squeeze them!
The pulp is more engorged in a warm lemon than a cold one and this lets you squeeze more juice out of them. Ten minutes in a bowl of hot tap water works great.
Juice Your Own Lemons for the Best Flavor!
For my own lemonade, I buy organic lemons and then juice them myself. I find the end product is much more flavorful then using a ready-made lemon juice, although that works too if you can't purchase whole lemons. I hope someday to have a tree or two and grow my own.
Lemonade Trick #2
Softening your lemons helps get more juice out of them!
"Tenderizing" your lemons is another way to yield more juice, so roll each lemon back and forth firmly on the kitchen countertop with your hand before squeezing/juicing them.
Blending in other fruit juices and small amounts of flavored syrups are great ways to vary the taste of lemonade.
"Pink" lemonade can be made lots of ways, including adding a few drops of food coloring, blending the lemonade with cranberry or adding a dash of grenadine (a red syrup).
"Hard" lemonade refers to lemonade-related beverages that contain alcohol and which are appropriate for the 21+ crowd.
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Use a middle-shelf vodka. Get a first-rate, commercial, in-the-bottle, lemonade.
Depending on how much lemonade you are trying to make, there are a variety of tools that will help you get the juice out of your lemons. I happen to use a hand-held reamer as I'm a single person making small pitchers of lemonade, but if you've got a large family or want to make it regularly for larger groups, you might want to go with something a little more industrial.
Share your love of lemonade or tell us about a great recipe or flavor variation that you make! Please comment below.