A hot summer day there are very few things that can beat the refreshing taste of lemonade. It is not only the aroma of the lemon but also the sour and sweet that battle on your tongue for the last word. It is also the cold liquid, very often sparkling, liquid that accommodates such an event. There are many recipes for lemonade, but the one that is the most close to my heart is the one that the best cook I know used to make. That is my mom. The best lemonade period. Why? Well it is so simple! No need to make syrup boil the juice. A few simple ingredients and that’s all. Although I added a few tweaks myself, just so it can be closer to what I like the recipe is mom all over. There are no long introduction, or history about it… It is a lemonade that’s all it is. Actually to be precise I should call it citrusade. It can be done with all citruses that are unpleasant to the taste, lemons, limes, grapefruits, pergamont etc. All you need is sugar (and love, but that is not a real ingredient). So here, since the lemons are a bit of season I chose to go with limes, that are also of season but cheaper.
Here are the ingredients:
- Limes or lemons
- Water or sparkling water
First thing, right of the start, no quantities. That is because, these products vary in tartness greatly depending on the year, crop, store etc. So we will set some rules of thump, but by no means lock yourself in them. There is a reason are called rule of thumb. So by default you use the same weight of juice to sugar. Not volume, weight! We will discuss this a bit later as well. The water is completely up to you. I tend towards the more dilute side. You might like it stronger.
Start by taking the zest of one lime. Just the very-very top part of the zest; not the pith. The green part. We will need some of it to give some extra aroma. The juice itself, is not as aromatic.
About 1 tbsp will do it. Gather it up… and please don’t do this. The fingers are usually tender and soft and the knife hard and sharp. You can imagine what can happen… So use a different method. I… am… just trying here to show you the danger. Yes, that is… just to highlight the danger. Just place them in a large container.
Cut the lime… Take a moment and smell the freshness… Aaaaahhh yes…
And squeeze the juice out. Yes a citrus squeezer would be better, but lacking it, that some more manual labor is in order. I squeezed in total about 10 limes that gave me about 2 1/2 cups of juice.
Add them to the reserved zest. Let them with the zest for 30 mins so the zest aroma gets infused, but not any longer since it will start giving out really bitter aftertastes.
Strain the juice and try to resist the urge to take a spoon and push it through the sift. Here we need a nice clean liquid, with no pith or pulp. I know pulp is good, but trust me on that. You will see why later.
Based on the rule of thumb established earlier for 2 1/2 cups of juice weighting about 600g we will need 300 g of sugar. So carefully measure it… Yes technically you will need a scale, I have none, so I estimate that 300 gr of sugar is about 1 1/4 cup. So I start with that. All you need is just to be careful…
Careful I said damn it…
Add the sugar and reserve 1/2 of a cup for later. We add, we stir, we try and we repeat if required.
Mix… Mix well. It is important that all the sugar is completely dissolved before you try it. If not then you will over sweeten the lemonade. Here you have to use your taste. It is up to you to get the sweet and sour balance to the levels you want.
In this case I need more sugar… A bit more… And there! You have your basic sugar lemon base. This is the base of your lemonade. By the way, you can see that the color is slightly shifted to the greener side… The zest my friends… the zest.
Now take a highly customized limeade bottle… What? You think that this is an ordinary bottle from trader joe’s limade…. Well LOOK AGAIN!
Look Closer… Yes this is customized for me! Trader George! George because it is my name, and trader cause…. I trade recipes online.
Anyway… Transfer there about 20% of the total bottle volume. That would be 200 ml, that is about a cup of mixture (1 cup is 240 ml).
Now add the water. Regular water if you want a straight up old fashioned lemonade or, sparkling if you need a twist. A nice twist I might add.
About 3/4 to the end stop. You will also notice that it bubbles quite significantly. That is because although we strained the juice, tiny little particles can actually remain and the act as nucleation spots for the bubbles. If it was not strain it would be 80% bubbles. Of course you can use another pot to mix everything, but over-agitating the club soda will make it lose the carbonation and by the time you bottle it, you will end up with a very flat lemonade.
Now take a sample. Time to fine tune it. More lemon/lime/sugar mixture, more water.. It’s all up to you…
Keep filling it. Some of the foam will run of to the side, that is fine. Just keep on until you are to the top.
A frothy top I might add. Oh those black specs? These are from the vanilla sugar I used. Oh yeah I am twisted like that… or am I?
Serve with a slice or lime… or two… or straight up…
And there you have it! an amazing, refreshing, easy to make, easy to drink lemonade.
A few notes to the careful reader:
- You can use any sour tasting citrus, or… even better a combination. Limes, lemons, persian limes (green lemons basically) pergamont (if you can find them) grapefruit (how do you think the pink lemonade is made).
- You can also add in moderation other fruits as cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, sky is the limit!
- Resist the temptation to use high quality naturally sparkling water. They contain less CO2 and by the time you finish you will have no carbonation left.
- You will definitely have left over. I would recommend to keep the sugar-juice mixture in it’s form until you need to make more lemonade. It is preserved better this way and the carbonation is not wasted by keeping it in the refrigerator.
- You don’t have to mix everything at once of course. You can keep it in the bottle and mix it with water (or bubbled water) right on the spot.
- The remaining mixture, is good for other applications as well, in marinates, in cocktails (daqurie) to name a few.