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What would summer be without lemonade? Hot days just need its icy, sweet and tangy flavor. It may be the perfect refreshment.
You can buy it from the store or make it from a mix, but nothing compares to fresh homemade lemonade. It may be a little more work, but that extra time and care will show when you pour a tall, frosty glass on a scorching afternoon.
Just thinking about it makes you thirsty. Read on for tips on how to make lemonade the old fashioned way.
Step 1: Choose your lemons
As with most recipes, the work starts at the grocery store. It pays to be a little picky about your fruit, so don’t just grab a bag of lemons and call it good.
Take a few moments to browse your store’s lemon display. Look for good colored lemons – those that are too pale may be a little old and dry. Make sure the skin is unblemished and free of unripe green spots.
A good lemon can also feel a little heavy and give off a whiff of tantalizing lemon aroma. You want something ripe, plump and juicy. The more lemonade you make, the more lemons you should buy – and since they’re such a versatile ingredient, don’t worry too much about buying a few extra.
You can also try Meyer lemons if you feel like it. They are sweeter and have a hint of herbaceous, even floral flavor in the bark.
Step 2: Select your sweet stuff
Refined white sugar is the classic choice for lemonade. You can decide not to stray too far from that – or opt for something different.
Alternative sweeteners, such as honey or coconut sugar, may alter the flavor profile slightly and affect the drink’s texture and appearance. (Brown sugar lemonade that tastes like tea and has hints of caramel is probably not what a guest expects, but can also be enjoyable.) Still, feel free to experiment; you might appreciate the subtle addition of maple or a stronger sweetness.
Of course, if you’re watching your carbs, it’s up to you whether or not to use a sugar substitute like Splenda.
Step 3: Get Juice
This is where it gets serious. When perfecting your method of making lemonade, you want to maximize the amount of juice you get from those carefully selected lemons. Choose your juicing method with this in mind.
If you have a juicer, use it. If not, consider using a citrus reamer to extract as much juice as possible. An old-fashioned manual juicer also works great, although it is labor intensive.
Whatever tool you use, be sure to strain out any seeds or other bits that get into the juice. This is also a good time to scoop up some lemon peel zest, in case you need to add even more lemony goodness to your drink.
Step 4: Put it all together to make lemonade
We are almost there! However, there are many ways to mix lemon juice, sugar and water, and it all depends on how long you want to take and your own tastes.
You can put everything in a blender. You can make simple syrup. If you have the time and the will, you can macerate lemons for 12 hours or make your own lemonade concentrate.
Whichever method you choose, be prepared to dial in the flavors to your liking. It might take a little more water, or even a pinch or two of sugar – maybe even a touch of salt – but the extra effort will be worth it when you knock down that first thirst-quenching sip. You can even add additional fruit flavors, like strawberry or watermelon, or switch things up by using sparkling water. Now you know exactly how to make the best lemonade!