/ photography by Forrest Clonts
Let’s start with this: you’re gonna need more fruit. Lemonade does not come together with the three or four errant yellow orbs rolling about your produce drawer.
For a good sized pitcher, which will comfortably hold six cups of liquid, about sixteen lemons will yield two cups of juice, depending on fruit size and ripeness. Combine the juice with simple syrup and filtered water and you’ve got stellar lemonade when poured over ice.
The earliest mention of lemonade comes from Egypt; lemon juice was sweetened with honey and dates. In the seventeenth century, Parisian street vendors peddled cups of lemonade from tanks strapped to a shoulder.
Fresh-squeezed lemonade will keep in the fridge for about five days. Yes, it’s smart to roll the fruit on the counter before juicing. No, cutting it lengthwise does not yield more fluid ounces of juice. The myth of roasting lemons before juicing sounded too gross to try and a recent lemonade hack where the quartered fruit is battered in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment created a holy mess for us.
Deciding on a juicing implement is really the decision; an electric juicer, a reamer and a handheld squeezer all work equally well, but each present its own hand-cramping issue. At its best, lemonade is a group activity calling for all hands-on deck. The gold standard is a pitcher of lemonade with zero pulp, so a mesh strainer is a necessary extra step.
No matter how you make it, lemonade takes twice as long as expected and doesn’t occur spontaneously since fresh simple syrup is key to a silky mouthfeel. To make simple syrup for lemonade, add 1 cup of raw sugar to 2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil on the stove. Let it boil hard for two minutes and turn the burner off.
Level up your lemonade game by infusing the simple syrup with lemon as well. Take the ends off of 1 lemon and slice it. Remove every seed. Add slices to the boiled syrup, cover and move off of the hot burner, allowing the mixture to cool to room temperature. Strain into clean jars and refrigerate for up to a week.
Mix 1 cup of cooled lemon simple syrup with 2 cups of lemon juice and 3 cups of cold water. Poured over ice, it’s a pip of a sip.
To add herbal flavors (we like mint, basil or thyme), add a handful of four-inch cuttings of fresh herbs to the simple syrup while it cools. Wash the fool out of these stems to remove dirt, sand or grit. Strain and pour into clean jars.
If it’s color you want, add sliced fruit (we recommend strawberry or blackberry) to the simple syrup while it cools. Mash slightly before straining. For the essence of fruit, infuse the water used in the recipe with chunks of fruit overnight (try watermelon cucumber).
Skip the Sprite and pour a pilsner fifty-fifty with homemade lemonade for a lovely summer shandy. To create the ultimate boozy Arnold Palmer, mix equal parts of minted lemonade, unsweet tea and vodka in a shaker and strain over ice.