Sunday, July 10, 2011

Heavenly Lemonly Lemonade

Report from a willing galley slave: There be SCURVY aboard this ship! My regular blog will resume July 13th. In the meanwhile, let's address thirst!

Our dog-tired crew is thirsty!

First mate

Litter mate

If  “water, water, everywhere nor any drop to drink” is your problem, let your crew drink lemonade! (Hmmm ... Marie Antoinette said something similar. Look what happened to her!)

OK, I must confess ... I resolved this onboard issue with generous servings of Minute Maid Lemonade that I’d been saving in the galley freezer for exactly such an occasion. At home, I’d rather be keel-hauled than use a commercial product, because making lemonade is easy and inexpensive. Purists will turn up their noses that one of my lemonade recipes uses citric acid. Well, let me tell you, Dollinks, the very best lemonades use citric acid (and other chemical boosts) to produce a strong  “lemony” flavor!

Even if you use many, many lemons, a moderate amount of sugar, and ice water, homemade lemonade tastes disappointingly weak without the pucker power of citric acid. An organic product, it occurs naturally in citrus fruits - especially lemons and limes. But somehow, freshly squeezed lemons, sugar, and water just don’t meet my expectations. Adding a small amount of citric acid produces the necessary zip and zing to make lemonade good and tart! You'll find citric acid at your pharmacy or the local health food store. If they don't stock it, suggest they order it.

Lemonade has certainly changed since the days when I began my recipe collection. You worry about additives today? My older recipes call for the addition of citric acid, tartaric acid, and even epsom salts.  More recent recipes tend to drop those additions. To compensate for the weak lemon flavor that results, they often up the sugar to what I consider ridiculous and even unpalatable amounts. One old-time recipe in my files calls for eight or nine lemons and five pounds of sugar. Five pounds! 

To my way of thinking, that’s not what homemade lemonade should be about. Lemonade should be refreshing - not based on a sickly sweet syrup with a few lemons tossed in as an afterthought. “How much sugar” is a matter of personal preference - I like my lemonade tart! I envy those of you with a lemon tree in your back yard; lemons in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live cost a small fortune! However, I’ve found that Costco sells netted bags of about 15 lemons at a very reasonable price. Check it out!

A hammock, a book ... perfection!

The essence of lemonade is its simplicity - some freshly squeezed lemons, a little sugar mixed with water, a few ice cubes, a tall glass, and a straw. If you have a hammock and a book, that’s even better! If you have a rowboat and a lake, that’s better yet! 

Here are four lemonade recipes for your summer enjoyment. One recipe is for purists, without citric acid; one contains it; one has über sugar and all the sweetness anyone could want; and one - very, very easy and more of a party drink - uses a can of frozen concentrate and a large slug of vodka. A couple of these recipes use “simple syrup” - I'll explain what that is and how to make it in the note that follows the final recipe. Add a little citric acid if you want your lemonade tart, or extra simple syrup if it's not sweet enough for your taste. To make lemonade more colorful and visually interesting, I usually add a chunk of fresh lemon to each glass. When I make a pitcher full, I add one or two unjuiced lemons, cut in half.

Apologies to my readers in New Zealand and Australia, now caught in the grip of winter. Save these recipes for a more appropriate time, when those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are shoveling our driveways and you’re at the beach, firing up the barbie!

At times, our ship has been buffeted by wind and waves; at times, it has been becalmed. Driven mad by thirst, our ship's crew has endured the long, lonely days at sea by entertaining ourselves through curious means. Discovering talents previously unsuspected, we have succumbed to the charm of foreign ports and foreign ways. Ron, his hidden camera ever at the ready, captured my Margaret Mead-like efforts to befriend the natives in one of the exotic ports we visited:  

Heavenly Lemonly Lemonade (Version I):
3 c. water
½ c. granulated sugar
Juice of 1 whole lemon, with quarter of lemon added to glass
Ice cubes, as needed
Wipe skin of lemon with a damp cloth. Boil water and sugar together until sugar is completely dissolved. Chill until needed. This makes a very thin “simple syrup” - see Note at bottom of all recipes on page. Combine first three ingredients. Pour into 3 or 4 tall tumblers with enough ice to fill each glass. Top with cold water. Serves 3 or 4.
Heavenly Lemonly Lemonade (Version II):
Juice of one fresh lemon
2-3 tbsp. basic simple syrup (see Note)
⅛ tsp. citric acid
Ice, as needed
Wipe skin of lemon with a damp cloth. Combine all ingredients. Add slightly more citric acid if you want your lemonade more sour, or extra simple syrup if it’s not sweet enough. Pour into a tall tumbler with enough ice to fill the glass. Top with cold water. Makes one glass.
Heavenly Lemonly Lemonade (Version III):
This recipe makes a Lemonade Syrup concentrate. If Minute Maid can do it, so can you!
2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. water
Rind of 2 lemons, cut into thin strips with a vegetable peeler or a zester
Dash of salt
Juice of 6 lemons (enough juice to make 1 c.)
Boil sugar, water, lemon rind, and salt 5 min., stirring occasionally. Let cool. Stir in lemon juice and strain. Refrigerate in covered container. For each cup of lemonade, use 3 - 4 tbsp. lemon syrup and enough cold water to make 1 cup. Makes 2-½ c. lemon syrup.
Heavenly Lemonly Lemonade (Version IV):
3 c. vodka, divided
2 c. frozen commercial lemonade concentrate, thawed, divided
8 c. ice cubes, divided
Combine 1-½ c. vodka, 1 c. lemonade concentrate, and 4 c. ice cubes in blender. Blend until smooth but still slushy. Pour into large freezer container. Repeat with remaining vodka, lemonade concentrate, and ice. Add to same container. Cover and freeze until needed. When ready to serve, gently whisk lemonade and pour into pitcher. Serves 8. 
Note: Basic or “thick” Simple Syrup is a mixture of equal parts water and granulated sugar, boiled together 5 min. as a “saturated” solution in which the sugar is fully dissolved before chilling. A “medium” simple syrup uses 2 parts water and 1 part granulated sugar, and a “thin” simple syrup uses 3 parts water to 1 part granulated sugar. Stored in a bottled jar in the fridge, basic or “thick” simple syrup is a common addition to summer drinks and a useful ingredient to keep on hand. “Medium” simple syrup is often used in iced tea, and “thin” simple syrup is used as a glaze for baked goods. This is all a matter of personal preference. Recipes for home-canned fruits such as peaches, pears, and apricots usually call for “basic” or “thick” simple syrup, but I greatly prefer using a “thin” syrup when I bottle and preserve summer fruits.
PS: If you like this recipe, see the Beverages section of the Index for still more choices.


  1. Great recipes! But you need a nice lemonade pic for us pinterest addicts! <3 Thanks!

    1. Honey ... you are so-o-o right! I'll do that as quickly as possible! xox Nicole


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