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Fresh lemonade

  • m

I had a delicious Arnold Palmer this weekend that the bartender shook in a martini shaker so it was nice and frothy. This is going to be a summer favorite at our house so some questions about about the best way to make fresh lemonade in quantity, please.

Could I get by with Real Lemon juice for everyday instead of squeezing my own?
I have bar syrup. Is that the same as simple syrup which I see in some lemonade recipes?
Any ideas about who has the best prices for lemons? Costco I presume.

Thanks so much.

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  1. Bar syrup = simple syrup.

    Please don't use ReaLemon. Fresh-squeezed is best, fresh-squeezed that's frozen is okay.

    For lemons, this might be a good time to find some bargains at local farmer's markets there in Pasadena. Up here in Sacramento, my Ponderosa tree is dropping fruit faster than I can use it (and what fruit - cantaloupe-sized lemons, each of which gives more than a cup of juice), and my limited crop of Meyers is just finishing up.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alanbarnes

      Yes bar syrup equals simple syrup. I like to make my own and I go less on the sugar. Just me, some people make a very heavy simple syrup.

      Meyer lemons are the best if you can get them, fresh absolutely as alanbarnes mentioned. Definitely fresh ok. When my Dads tree is in season which seems like always I have more lemons than I could possibly use. I free in ice cubes and then freeze. They are great to make to use, just thaw and fresh juice. Right now I have lemon, orange, lime and grapefruit. Easy way to freeze lots of juice for your lemonade. Real lemon, you could but I wouldn't for a drink where lemon is the star. I may use real lemon if it was just a touch for a bit of flavor but not for lemonade.

    2. Fresh is great if you can get them.

      I make it using that Real Lemon from Costco and add a packet or two of Splenda to a liter of water. Great drink with no carbs or calories.

      Drinking lemondade may reduce kidney stones.

      1. Using Tropicana Sugar-free Lemonade is another alternative if time, avail. of lemons is an issue. While traveling on vacation w/friends we used the Tropicana "aid" with terrific results.

        1 Reply
        1. re: HillJ

          That is true, it is pretty descent. There is a frozen brand which Sams or BJ's had. A concentrate, but sugar free and it was pretty good. I have used that for big parties when I am making a lot rather than using all of my private stash.

        2. Real Lemon is kinda gross.

          Why not go to Costco, buy a couple large bags of lemons, squeeze them, remove the seeds and then freeze them in ice cube trays?

          Then, when you're in the mood, grab a couple of lemon cubes, plop them in a tall glass, pour in some simple syrup, add cold water and stir - et voila - Easy Lemonade!

          1. Make your own simple syrup - it's so much cheaper and it's ridiculously easy. You'll kick yourself for ever having bought it. equal parts sugar and water in a pan. Bring to boil, remove from heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Cool and then refrigerate for up to one month. You can also infuse your simple syrup with things like fresh herbs. Lemonade made w/ rosemary simple syrup is to die for.

            Just say "no" to Real Lemon.

            7 Replies
            1. re: lynnlato

              Mint too with the syrup is a favorite of mine with lime and lemon combo. And then of course a little rum too

              1. re: lynnlato

                Yes, and keep it in a squeeze bottle so you can easily make a serving of whatever you want. It comes in handy.

                1. re: chowser

                  Reminder: If you make a big batch, homemade simple syrup should be kept in the refrig.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I love those like ketchup or mustard squeeze bottles you find in a diner, I bought a pack of six at Walmart for 50 cents each. I use them like Guy Fierre for olive oil, red wine, etc etc. 4-5 of those fit better in my fridge or cabinet they the actual bottles. Mine came with little caps so it keeps them fresh. I hesitate using them but I really like them. I fill them with the most used items. Simple syrup is one and a flavored oil is another.

                    I had a BBQ a few weeks back and I was making mojitos and Island Rum pumch as the main drinks so I had many many containers of my simple syrup infused with mint and another with lemon and orange zest .

                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      You guys are amazing!! I woke up to 11 replies to my lemonade query - overnight. Can't wait to try all you suggest and many thanks.

                      P.S. We planted 26 tangerine trees last year and I could kick myself for not doing one lemon and one lime!

                      1. re: mocro

                        It's really good if you use carbonated water to make the lemonade--kind of a natural soda.

                        1. re: chowser

                          That is very good.

                          Sometimes when I run short of lemons, I will use a store bought good oj and my lemon and a dash of grenadine and freeze. Then thaw and add to some club soda as you mentioned and it is a great easy drink. I've done that for brunch, thawed my cubes and then added to champagne or sparkling wine. Really good and easy.

                          And is you just want a little flavor, just add the frozen cubes to carbonated water, as it melts it is a natural flavor which is great. Better than any bottled water you can buy.

                2. I recently started getting a CSA box, and with every delivery they send a newsletter with a few recipes using the ingredients in that week's box. The recipe for lemonade with mint is fabulous:
                  1.5 cups sugar
                  2.5 cups water
                  1 cup mint leaves (Big handful, whole leaves)
                  juice of 6 lemons
                  juice of 2 oranges
                  4 tsp. grated orange peel

                  Boil sugar and water together for 5 minutes. Add rest of ingredients, let steep 1 hr. Strain. This makes a concentrate. To serve as lemonade, mix one part concentrate with 3 parts water. Serve garnished with mint leaves and lemon slices.
                  The concentrate also mixes nicely with vodka.
                  I plan to try it with prosecco this weekend for a party....put a couple of tablespoons in a champagne glass, top with prosecco.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pcdarnell

                    That sounds great! And I love your prosecco idea, too. Will have to try that when our mint is growing again. Obviously, you live somewhere warmer than I do if you're getting lemons and oranges in your CSA box!

                  2. Cook's Illustrated has a somewhat labor intensive but great recipe for lemonade. Thinly slice your lemon and then muddle them with sugar using a potato masher. Add water and then poor through a fine mesh strainer to remove peels/seeds etc.

                    1. Just wanted to chime in here ...I’ve made lemonade all sorts of ways, but I have hit perfection this week with the following simple method. Fresh ingredients are a must for good lemonade!

                      Use the simple syrup. It’s fast and easy and does the best job. (1 cup)
                      1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice.
                      Fill pitcher with ice and water to 2 quarts.

                      Same as above, but add 1 cup of pureed fruit, sieved (strawberries, peaches, raspberries, etc.) I am going to do my next batch with cantaloupe and/or watermelon.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cuccubear

                        we LOVE adding muddled strawberries and mint to our lemonade. the fact that we live in florida and that we have 3 girls... we ALWAYS squeeze fresh.

                      2. By the by, I made the cantaloupe lemonade last night, and it is very good. Same method as above, using about 1.5c of puree. It was very creamy and the cantaloupe flavor didn’t hit you until you took a breath after taking a swig.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cuccubear

                          I love reading about these variations. Will have to give them a try.

                          1. re: kattyeyes

                            I don’t know why, kattyeyes, but this summer, this is all I’m about, this lemonade!

                        2. I used to own a juice bar..... our fresh lemonade was the juice of 2 apples, one red, one green and the juice of one lemon.... no sugar no nuthin..... only juice!!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Lenox637

                            i have never considered a lemon juice with apple! i will definitely have to give this a try!!!

                          2. I always made fresh lemon and lime ades, never store bought, until about two years ago. In the cold area where the oj is there is a product called Simply Lemonade, Limeade, etcl It is made from not from concentrate juice, water and sugar only. It is an excellent product. It comes in a 1.75 L clear plastic bottle and sells for approx. $2.59. It is on sale in my area for 2/ $4 now, now way you could come close unless you have a lemon tree.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: robt5265

                              I love Simply Lemonade! I dilute it with seltzer and that is what we drink instead of soda. When in a jam I found Santa Cruz organic lemon juice to taste closest to fresh squeezed.

                              1. re: robt5265

                                We bought an iced tea maker thing (awful- leaks and I think it's easy to boil water- steep tea and add ice but... anyway - I wanted to make Arnold Palmers and since our tree isn't giving good fruit consistently- I grabbed a bottle of Simply Lemonade for $2 - it's actually tasty stuff.
                                Lemon's were 3 for $2 and one had mold the next day (makes me so mad!)

                              2. Two more variations over the holiday weekend – watermelon and plum.

                                The watermelon didn’t thrill me like I wanted. I used one of those seedless melons which was very pale and almost flavorless. Friends loved it though, and it would make a great mixer with vodka.

                                The plum was a great surprise. Used red plums and pureed about 2 cups worth. It was more tart than the other flavors, but was so refreshing. We experimented with spiking it with vodka (Absolut Lemon and Orange) and, for my taste, it made the lemonade bitter.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: cuccubear

                                  Have you ever tried spiking with Bacardi Limon?

                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                    No I haven't, cuz' I'm not a big fan of rum, but I'll bet some of these, like the cantaloupe, would be good with tequila.

                                    1. re: cuccubear

                                      As a funny aside, we were out for a walk near the shore this weekend and stopped for drinks on the way back--my guy plays golf and got a big kick out of seeing a "John Daly" on the drink menu. He asked, "How did you guys come up with John Daly?" And the guy behind the bar said, "Well, it's like an Arnold Palmer, but it's alcoholic." HA HA HA! I believe it was vodka and it was very refreshing indeed. The bartender also said Mr. Daly was a guest at the Inn and he mentioned to Mrs. Daly that they had a drink named after her husband on the menu. ;)

                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        They do sound good, and a great way to brighten up ice tea.

                                  2. re: cuccubear

                                    Waltzing thru BJ's they had samples of Naked Juice- Watermelon flavored.
                                    She pushed a dixie cup on me, so I had to try (I don't care for watermelon-gotta be in the mood.) The juice was good- first ingredients were apple and pear juice... I think it's that way with many bottled juices. Watermelon colored- would have gone great with vodka.

                                  3. A fabulous summer drink is Mount Gay rum and fresh lemonade.

                                    Anyway, my local chain grocery store sells 2 or 3 pound bags of lemons that I believe are a better deal than Costco's 5 pound bag. The problem with the 5 pound bag of lemons at Costco (usually from Spain) is that although the lemons are huge, you're paying for mostly rind as the rinds are 1/4" to 1/2" thick so you're likely not getting as much juice out of them as a much smaller grocery store lemon.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Den

                                      I've noticed the same thing. "Bigger" lemons don't necessarily mean more juice!

                                      1. re: cuccubear

                                        When they're big enough you can have a thick rind and still get plenty of juice (that's a six-inch ruler for scale).

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Holy Mackerel! I've never seen lemons that big...If six "regular" lemons produce a cup of juice, how many of those do you need?

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              Wow. I've heard everything is bigger in Texas, but those California lemons take the cake! (Assuming that's where you found it.)

                                              1. re: cuccubear

                                                They're Ponderosa lemons. Never seen them in a market; we've got a tree in the back yard.

                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                  That whole California envy of mine strikes daily while reading this site. You have a whole TREE of them in your backyard! Now I REALLY wish I were your neighbor (not in a creepy way, of course).

                                    2. I would try the farmers market for your lemons.

                                      1. Made the blueberry lemonade this week. Tasted good, but there was too much detritus floating around, and it had to be shaken before every serving. So, for me, this one was a bust. It would have been better with peeled blueberries, but who’s going to do that? lol

                                        1. This weeks flavor was cherry, and it was one of the better ones. I might need a finer sieve to keep out the skins of these smaller fruits.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: cuccubear

                                            Living in Mexico it is all about lime. We simply squeeze limes into mineral water = limeade. If you need sweetening, I agree, simple syrup - but I like mine sin azucar - no sugar.

                                            1. re: Mariana in Baja

                                              Lucky you! Do you make Lime Drops (Mexican Lemon Drops), too? I had that shot in Cabo. Mmmmmmmmmm!

                                            2. I make mine with simple syrup infused with the zest from all the lemons I'm using.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: bw2082

                                                That just might be my next step...the _complex_ lemonades. Hmmm?

                                              2. I'd go in the direction of vietnamese salty lemonade. My taste buds now find plain old lemonade boring:


                                                But whatever you do, definately REAL FRESH LEMONS!!!