Once I get a glimpse of summer approaching, I tend to start having these fantasies where I’m sitting in a rocking chair on a wrap-around porch attached to some country home. In my hand is, naturally, a mason jar filled with fresh squeezed lemonade that I sip in between nostalgic mutterings about how when I was a kid not everyone got a trophy just for showing up. Of course, in my fantasies I’m not seventy years old, but still in my thirties because why should I have to wait to retire before becoming a curmudgeonly porch sitter?
Recently, with the grass in our yard starting to grow to an unsightly length, I brought my cheap push-mower back to life and proceeded to wrestle with it all over the backyard to bring our lawn back to a more respectable level. As I neared the end of the job, I desperately wished I could step inside to pour myself a glass of perfectly tart and sweet fresh-squeezed lemonade. I didn’t have any that day, but before you decide to brave the heat each summer, I suggest you make sure you have a pitcher full of some homemade lemonade on hand to cool you off. Luckily, even if you don’t have to take care of your yard (or you just don’t care about taking care of your yard), lemonade doesn’t discriminate and is equally great for lazy sipping.
Makes about 8.5 cups of lemonade at about 690 calories total or about 61 calories per 12 oz. of lemonade.
- 8 – 10 Lemons to make 1.5 cups of lemon juice (about 150 calories)
- 3/4 cup of sugar (about 540 calories)
Note: Depending on how sweet or tart you like your lemonade, you might use less or more than this amount of sugar.
- 6 to 7 cups of water
- Manual juice press or citrus squeezer
- Fine mesh strainer
- Small pot
- Measuring cup
- Large spoon or ladle
- Small bowl, cup, or other container to hold the lemon juice
- Pour 3/4 of a cup of sugar into a small pot with just enough water to wet the sugar (about 1/2 cup of water).
- Bring the mixture up to a simmer on medium heat as you stir occasionally to incorporate the ingredients together.
- Once mixed and the sugar is completely dissolved, set the simply syrup to the side and let it cool down.
- While the syrup cools, slice a lemon in half and use a press or citrus squeezer to extract the juice. Collect the juice into a bowl or cup.
- Pour the juice through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup to strain the seeds and pulp. Discard the seeds and pulp.
- Repeat this process of slicing and squeezing the lemons until you have about 1.5 cups of lemon juice.
- After straining all of the juice, move the lemon juice to a large pitcher.
- Add 6 cups of water to the pitcher.
- Add 2/3 of the simply syrup to the pitcher.
- Mix the lemonade very well using a ladle or wooden spoon and then taste it. If it is too tart for you, add in the rest of the simple syrup. If you like it tart, then save the simple syrup in the fridge for later. Other people can add some of the extra syrup to sweeten their own glass of lemonade or you can use it to sweeten iced coffee or other cool beverages. If adding in all of the simple syrup leaves the lemonade still too tart for you, then just make another batch of simple syrup to add more. I’ve seen recipes with tons of sugar in them, but I like my lemonade a little more tart than extremely sweet.
- Once you have the level of sweetness you want, garnish the pitcher with a few sliced rings (maybe 4 – 6) of unsqueezed lemon and then refrigerate the whole pitcher for a couple of hours before serving. This lemon garnish isn’t necessary, but it adds some great color and you can add a slice from the pitcher to glasses of poured lemonade. You don’t have to refrigerate the lemonade before serving as long as you pour it over ice, but it does help to allow the flavors to incorporate well.
- Lastly, if you’re feeling especially down home and country, pour your lemonade and drink it out of a mason jar!