8 Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Lemonade
Unique ways to make homemade lemonade
Jennon Bell Hoffmann
Nothing’s better than a sip of ice-cold, homemade lemonade on a hot day. While the base ingredients of lemonade are simple—lemons, sugar, water, and ice—there are plenty of ways to elevate your recipe, from choosing the best lemons and equipment to adding unexpected flavor components.
Whether you are a practiced home chef or a novice cook, check out eight impressive ways to level-up your lemonade.
First Things First: Good Lemons
The best food comes from the best ingredients, so make sure your lemons are small and feel heavy for their size. The skin should be bright yellow, firm to the touch (there shouldn’t be any soft spots), and wrinkle-free. Lemons can be stored in a bowl on the countertop for up to 10 days or in the refrigerator in a sealed bag for four weeks.
Lemonade Tips for Beginners
1. Master Classic Lemonade.
It’s simple to make: Stir together 1 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and 6 cups cold water. To bring out the lemons’ bright, citrusy taste, roll them firmly across your countertop before squeezing them so that you get the most juice possible. Be sure to strain out seeds, but don’t worry about the pulp—it adds a natural texture.
2. Make the Most of your Ingredients.
Use your own hands, a manual lemon juicer, or an electric juicer to squeeze the most out of your lemons. You can expect to yield 1 cup of juice from about 6 lemons. Pure cane granulated sugar is most common for taste, but feel free to experiment with your preferred sugar type or sugar substitute.
3. Fancify your Lemonade.
While fresh, basic lemonade served over ice is lovely as is, creatively garnishing your pitcher or glassware with orange peels, mint leaves, sliced lemon rounds, or colorful berries is an easy way to make the classic drink look and feel fancier. You can also try rimming your glass with sugar for added sparkle and sweetness. Simply roll a cut lemon along the rim of your glassware to moisten before rolling it in a shallow saucer of sugar to coat the glass lip.
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Lemonade Tips for Adventurous Cooks
4. Step up Your Sweetener Game.
Sometimes sugar takes a while to dissolve and leaves a grit. When making lemonade, try using simple syrup instead. To make your own simple syrup, boil 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar until the sugar is dissolved thoroughly. You can add whatever flavoring, such as fresh sliced raspberries, dried or fresh rosemary, a whole vanilla bean pod, or even a steeping a bag of Earl Grey tea. You can also find artisan flavored syrups, such as lavender and ginger, at grocery stores and farmer’s markets, as well as online.
5. Add Fruit and Herb Flavors.
Lemons are versatile, which makes flavor variations delicious. Citrus and fruit flavors blend well with the tartness of lemonade; try making strawberry, raspberry, mango, peach, or pineapple lemonade variations by adding the juice directly or blending into a puree first. You can experiment with juice ratios, based on which flavor you want to highlight.
Savory herbs go well with lemonade too. Mint-, basil-, cardamom-, or fennel-flavored syrups can give your lemonade a sophisticated twist.
6. Try a New Spin on Arnold Palmers.
A popular and equally refreshing summer drink as classic lemonade is the Arnold Palmer, which is half lemonade and half iced tea. A fun way to make it is to make ice cubes from iced tea and drop them into classic lemonade, letting the flavors blend as the ice melts.
Lemonade Tips for the Experts
7. Experiment with Different Cooking Techniques.
The great thing about lemonade is that it is a forgiving canvas and welcomes experimentation. Beyond mixing flavors, try incorporating more advanced cooking techniques into your lemonade to bring out different elements and tastes. For example, charring lemons on the grill adds a smoky, heady flavor to the lemons. You can also blend together lemon sorbet, fruit purees, and a few tablespoons of lemon zest to create a drinkable frozen lemonade dessert.
8. Use your Lemonade for Pickling.
Lemonade pickles are a quirky, refreshing twist on quick pickles, or refrigerator pickles. Steep cucumbers, garlic, onions, peppers, and herbs in lemonade. The resulting pickles can be enjoyed on their own, or in sandwiches to add zing and zest.