Somehow almost half this year has flown by and the unofficial start of summer is right around the corner. I’m not sure if it’s something that happens as you age, but it seems every year goes by faster than the last. Here in Southern California, you can (mostly) grill and dine outside almost any day of the year, so I’ve honestly been thinking about outdoor foods for a bit now.
During one of my outdoor musings (officially called spacing out), I happen to glance at my lemon trees and notice I had about 15-20 lemons left. Having moved to California in the late fall and not being really orientated until just about now, I had let the winter bounty of lemons mostly fall to the ground with the oranges and limes. I was pretty annoyed with myself for this so I was determined that those last lemons would not meet the same fate. At the same time, I was also tying to think of a way to get my son to drink less “lemonade”. You know the one I’m talking about. That tasty neon yellow drink with maybe 2% lemon juice in it. So I decided to make some lemonade.
The first time out was meh. It was nice but tasted a bit like lemon water. Next up, I added a bit more sugar to my sugar/honey mix and found it was good but my official taste tester came home from school and declared it meh. I was so bummed because I had thought for sure this was the one! Not wanting to throw it away, I put it back in the fridge and forgot about. Dinnertime came around the next day and in getting drinks ready, I realized we were out of tasty fake lemonade. My son reluctantly agreed to give the homemade stuff another try. To my shock, he gulped the glass down and declared it the best! So my pro tip is make this and LET IT SIT overnight. So what are you waiting for? Make some lemonade now so you can have it ready for that long weekend and all those chances to eat food outside!
Make It Yourself Lemonade
Prep Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 1 day | Serves: varies
- 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (5-7 lemons, reserving 1/2 lemon)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup honey (optional-just add extra 1/4 cup sugar if you choose no honey)
- Combine sugar and water/honey in a small pot and cook over low heat, stirring frequently. Don’t boil the mixture but ensure all of the sugar/honey is dissolved completely. Once it’s fully dissolved, let the mixture sit and cool for at least 30 minutes
- Carefully clean the lemons using warm water. Juice the lemons until you get 1 1/2 cups of juice. Pour the juice into a large juice/drink container then thinly slice 1/2 lemon and add to the juice, poking out any seeds in the lemon before adding
- Add the cooled sugar/honey mixture to the lemon juice and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 day
- Serve over ice on a hot and sunny summer day!
- I stressed this in my intro and in the notes, but for some amazing flavors, prepare this the day before you intend to drink it. It tasted fine drank the day I made it, but it felt like it was missing something. So instead of dumping more sugar water in (which was my first thought), just give it some time.
- I know it’s a pain in the behind, but for the best flavor you really need to use lemon juice you squeeze out of a lemon. You have at least a half hour to kill before you can use the sugar water anyway so why not give your arms and hands a little workout:)
- For those trying to lighten the sugar, I recommend using some honey. Depending on your taste, you can substitute some or all of the sugar for honey. Just note the amount of water has to be the same as your sweetener so if you do 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup honey, you still need 1 1/2 cups water in total. If you go all honey, the lemonade won’t be quite as sweet but it will still be tasty.
- If you decide you want to lighten the sweeter overall and add less than I have listed, go ahead! I made a batch using only 1 cup sweetener in total and found it to be good but more tart and a little light on flavor so I did choose to add in a 1/2 cup more cooled sweet water after the fact. The lovely thing about starting out with small amounts is you can always, always add more in so start small with the sugar and add a bit more if need be. Just be sure your sweetener/water ratio is always 1:1. This means if you add 1 cup of sugar, you add 1 cup of water. Keep it equal, everybody!