Opa's Old-fashioned Lemonade

Last revised:  01-Oct-05

Ever get a hankerin' for some good old fashioned real lemonade...and then reach for one of those canned, frozen, or "in-a-jar" abominations?  Not all that satisfying, are they? 

Well relax!  According to my grandson, Kyle, here's a simple recipe for making, "The bestest lemonade in the whole wide world!"

Before we get into the recipe; let's define some of the criteria for what makes a "good" lemonade.  First and foremost; lemonade consists of: lemons, sugar, and water.  Nothing else!  You don't need to know the names of any complex chemical components or procedures in order to read the label on any "real" lemonade.  Anything that starts with a powder or concentrate of some sort, is an overly processed waste of time and effort.

The basic recipe (for each lemon):

As already explained, you need to start with real lemons.  Given that they're a natural product, the flavor, intensity, and the amount of yield from each one is going to vary from time-to-time, place-to-place, and seasonally.  So keep in mind that the basic recipe offered here is a starting place, and not necessarily a final result.  You will almost certainly want to tweak the amounts to tune the taste to your own liking.

The "secret ingredient":  Finally, the almost universally overlooked component of real lemonade is the peel of the lemon.  It is the "oil-of-lemon", found in the peel, that provides the heart and soul of this fantastic, refreshing, yet simple drink.  So, for each lemon used, reserve at least one-half of the peel for adding into your drink.  If you're like us, you'll use all of the peels...although some may find that a bit too intense for their liking...

Making the Lemonade:

Since you're going to put the outside of the lemon into your drink as well, begin by scrubbing each whole lemon under water and/or with a fruit/veggie wash type of cleaner or scrubber; and cut off the stem and "pip" ends without cutting into the fruit.  I make a special point of cutting them off because that's where any pesticide or other residue is going to hiding.

Into a 1-cup liquid measure, for each lemon; add the sugar, squeeze the juice of one lemon, and fill it up to the 1-cup mark with water.  This will make a slightly too sour and slightly too sweet basic lemonade--continue reading, as this will change... 

Now take at least one-half of the lemon peel that's left over from the squeezing, and put it into your lemonade container.  Add the ice cubes.  Crush or bruise the lemon peel with the ice cubes by using the stem of a wooden spoon or other implement suitable for such action.  I use a piece of Ash left over from one of my woodworking projects.  But anything will do--a wooden potato masher, for instance.  Crushing the peel is important, but you don't need to pulverize it.  Simply damaging or bruising the surface is sufficient. Doing that will release the flavorful oils that hide therein--and it is those oils that impart the dramatic and worthwhile "real lemon" flavor to the lemonade.

Caveats:  As previously explained, lemons, being a "natural" product, will vary in flavor, intensity, and amount of juice that can be expressed.  The people drinking it will also vary in their likes or dislikes.  A young child may find it too sour, and an older adult may find it too sweet.  You should vary the final cup or two (assuming you make it 8-12 lemons at a time like we do) in order to tune the taste to your needs or liking.  Remember, the ice will melt--this will dilute your lemonade.  Which is another reason that I set it up to start out a bit too strong and too sweet...

Trust me, this stuff will grow on you.  The down side?  You won't happily drink any of the processed "lemon flavored" products after that.  Besides, it's easy enough that even kids as young as 9 or 10 can make it without heavy supervision...