When a grocery store gives you lemons on sale, it’s time to learn how to make lemonade from scratch! That’s the fortunate position I found myself this winter when our grocery store priced lemons for $0.18 each. I guess there’s not a lot of demand for lemons in February, so I snapped up six pounds.
That’s right: six pounds of lemons. Then I broke out my super-easy electric citrus juicer and got to work. By the time I was done I had close to six quarts of freshly-squeezed lemon juice!
How to Make Lemonade from Scratch
Supposedly, there are a number of health benefits to drinking lemon water. Most times the advice is to drink warm lemon water, but your body is going to warm it up once it’s in there, anyway.
Okay, the health gurus don’t advise adding sugar. Since we try to avoid white sugar when possible, I used liquid stevia in one batch. Not an hour later, my son and I were both sneezing horribly. It turns out, if you have ragweed allergies, you shouldn’t use stevia. Who knew?
FREEZE EXTRA LEMON JUICE
If you’re lucky enough to get very juicy lemons, you might have more than you need to make the recipe below. Don’t throw it out! Lemon juice freezes well in Mason jars, and you can keep adding more any time you’ve got leftover lemon juice. When you’ve got enough saved up, make more lemonade. (If you’re not a fan of Mason jars in the freezer, ice cube trays work well, too.)
Now, while old-fashioned lemonade is definitely my kids’ favorite, I do like to switch things up on occasion so I played around with a few variations, including one just for adults. Be sure to check those out after the recipe!
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup sugar or 1 tsp. liquid stevia
- 1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 6 cups water very cold
- 2 cups ice
Make a simple syrup
- Combine hot water and sugar in small saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves then remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Note: liquid stevia users should skip this step!
Make the lemonade
- Stir simple syrup (or stevia) and lemon juice together. Add the 6 cups of water then 2 cups of ice and stir well. Taste and add more water if it's too sweet.
10 Lemonade Flavor Variations
Ginger Lemonade Peel a 2-inch section of fresh ginger root. Slice it thinly, and add while making the simple syrup. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes then remove the ginger slices before proceeding with the recipe. Adjust sugar to taste. Garnish with lemon slices.
Peach Lemonade Peel and chop 3 large peaches. Combine the chopped peaches and the lemon juice from the recipe in a blender. Strain and add into recipe where lemon juice is called for. Reduce the amount of water added to 4 cups. Garnish with lemon slices and a wedge of peach.
Lavender Blueberry Lemonade: Add 1/4 cup dried lavender blossoms when making the simple syrup. Allow this to cool then strain the liquid into a blender. To the blender, add 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries and puree for 30 seconds. Strain and stir this into the finished lemonade. Garnish with lemon slices and a few blueberries, or add frozen ones to the glass.
Strawberry Lemonade Make the simple syrup then blend it with 16-oz. fresh or frozen strawberries. Strain this and proceed with the recipe. Garnish with sliced strawberries and lemons.
Mint Lemonade Fizz Add 1 handful of torn, fresh mint leaves as you’re making the simple syrup. Remove from heat and let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain and proceed with the recipe, substituting 16-ounces of club soda for 2 cups of the cold water. Garnish with mint sprigs and lemon slices.
Pink Cranberry Lemonade Substitute 1 cup cranberry juice for 1 cup of cold water at the end. Garnish with lemon slices.
Watermelon Lemonade Puree 4 cups cubed, seedless watermelon. Strain. Substitute this juice (around 2 cups) for 2 cups of the cold water at the end of the recipe. Garnish with lemon slices and a very thin wedge of watermelon.
Vanilla Lemonade Slice a vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds with a spoon. Add the seeds and the scraped bean to the sugar-water while making simple syrup. Remove this from the heat and let sit 10 minutes. Remove the bean and proceed with the recipe. Garnish with lemon slices.
Lemon-Lime Fizz Substitute lime juice for half of the lemon juice in the recipe above. Replace 2 cups of the cold water at the end with 16-ounces of club soda. Garnish with both lemon and lime slices.
Lemonade Champagne (Not for kids!) Make the recipe above but reduce the cold water at the end to just 2 cups. Fill a champagne flute halfway with this concentrated lemonade, and top it off with cold champagne. Cheers!