When a great sale at the grocery store gives you lemons on discount, 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! Now, some of that went into making homemade hummus, and some went into making homemade all-purpose cleaner, but I still had a LOT left.
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.
And, okay, the health gurus don’t advise adding sugar, but I used liquid stevia (though I give you both measurements in the recipe below), which doesn’t have the health worries of white sugar. See, I can talk myself into believing anything is a health food!
Of course, there was no way we were going to drink that much lemonade before the lemon juice would go bad (though our dentist has been hinting that he needs a new Mercedes) so after a couple of pitchers I froze the rest of the lemon juice in ice cube trays, then popped those cubes into freezer bags. Frozen freshly-squeezed citrus juice retains all of its tart flavor, so this is a great way to take advantage of sales.
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!
How To Make Lemonade From Scratch
Serves: 8 glasses
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup sugar OR 1 teaspoon liquid stevia
- 1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 6-8 cups very cold water
- If using sugar, make simple syrup:
Combine hot water and sugar in small sauce pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Note: liquid stevia users can skip this step.
- Make lemonade:
Stir simple syrup (or stevia) and lemon juice together.
Add 6 cups of remaining water, then taste. Add more water to reach desired sweetness.
•Ginger Lemonade: Peel a 2-inch section of fresh ginger root. Slice it into 10 very thin slices, and heat these with the sugar-water. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes then remove ginger slices from the simple syrup 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 lemon juice in a blender. Strain and add into recipe where lemon juice is called for, reducing the amount of cold water you add at the end by 2 cups. Garnish with lemon slices and a wedge of peach.
•Lavender Blueberry Lemonade: Add 1/4 cup dried lavender blossoms when you’re making the simple syrup. Allow this to cool then strain into a blender. Add 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries to the blender and pulse for 30 seconds. Strain this into the pitcher, add lemon juice and remaining water. 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 cup 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 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 (you can’t even strain the seeds out) 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!