For the most part, I am a convinced (the Quaker term for converted) locavore. I want to eat what’s ripe and ready from the environment around me, or to devise a means of preserving it so that I can store it to have at a later date. But with every rule, there are exceptions. Coffee. Chocolate. Homemade lemonade. Homemade limeade.
I specify ‘homemade’ because I really don’t have much tolerance for the stuff from the freezer sections, or even refrigerated sections of the grocery stores. Too many of those products are made with High Fructose Corn Syrup. While I understand that the Corn Council, or the American Society of Corn By-Product Producers, or whatever their right name may be, insists there’s no difference to the body in digesting HFCS as opposed to sucrose from cane or beet, they aren’t talking about me.
My diet is ‘clean’ enough that I am actively aware when I consume HFCS, and it produces mood swings followed by extreme lethargy in me–not conditions I have noticed after consuming sugar. So I’ve pretty much cut the stuff from my diet. And I really, really hate the politics of GMO corn and government subsidies to support the production of the corn and its further processing into HFCS.
Therefore I like to drink homemade lemonade or limeade when it’s good and hot out, as it has been for so much of this nearly interminable summer of drought. And since it does take some real prep time and focus, I tend to make bigger batches. More than bigger, I like to make them concentrated. That way I can choose to dilute my beverage to suit the number of ice cubes in my glass. Or I can use a sparkling water to make the drink more perky. Or I can add gingerale–HFCS free for sure, or even a shot of bourbon (or heck, both and have a real Lynchburg lemonade).
Homemade Lemonade or Limeade
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar, do I have to say organic is better here?
1 pinch of salt up to 1/2 tsp– if this is for people working hard in the heat use the larger volume of salt, they’ll need it
zest of six lemons or seven limes, use a sharp veg peeler, and try to leave the white pith behind
juice of 12 lemons or 14 limes (if they’re not juicy, you’ll want more, ditto if they’re small) to make between 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups of citrus juice
2 – 4 oz. finely chopped ginger (optional)
Let the sugar, water, salt, zest and ginger (if using) come to a boil in a pot on the stove, use a pot large enough that the mixture can foam up some without coming right out and making your stovetop all sticky and caramelized. Reduce the heat somewhat and allow the syrup to boil for about five minutes. Let the syrup cool until you can touch it without having an owie.
Meanwhile, be juicing all those citrus fruits. When the syrup is cool enough that it won’t ‘cook’ the fresh citrus juice, stir the two together–after straining out the zest and ginger solids. I store this in the fridge in a two quart container. I fill it part of the way with ice cubes, since it is very, very concentrated–and the rest of the way with sparkling water, but you can manage that as you like. Completely undiluted, this is a good ‘sour mix’ for bartending purposes.