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Good Old-Fashioned Lemonade

It seems like we hardly had winter in Austin, Texas, it was so mild. But now spring is here with summer close behind. Summer means hot weather, and hot weather means—lemonade! Don’t bother with premade or a mix. It’s fun, inexpensive, and delicious to make your own lemonade from scratch with fresh lemons. Come on—you know you want it.

What You’ll Need

First gather your supplies. For every four servings, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 fresh lemons, more if they’re small)
  • ½ cup sweetener (see NOTE on Sweeteners, below)
  • 4 to 5 total cups water
  • Reamer, hand juicer, or citrus squeezer (not necessary, but makes juicing easier)
  • Small saucepan
  • Pretty pitcher or jars to hold the finished yumminess

Prep Your Lemons Before Juicing

NOTE on Sweeteners: We avoid white sugar because natural sweeteners taste wonderful and are so much better for you. Coconut sugar is great for lemonade—and for baking, too. Other awesome lemonade sweeteners are honey, maple syrup, and sorghum syrup. If you follow a low-carb, diabetes, or candida diet, zylitol is a good option. All of these except honey are vegan. With any sweeteners listed here, use the same amount, ½ cup per recipe.

Juice Your Lemons

Have lemons at room temperature if possible; cold lemons take more work to juice. Roll lemons on the counter before juicing, firmly but without cracking the skins, until you feel them soften. They will yield more juice! If you use a microwave, zapping them for 20 seconds each will make juicing easier.

Cut lemons in half—crosswise if you’re using a tool to juice them, lengthwise if you’re squeezing the lemons by hand. Juicing right into a measuring cup makes it easy to keep track of how much you’ve made.

Cutting lemons for juicing

Make Syrup

Combine sweetener and 1 cup of water in small saucepan. Heat on the stove over medium heat, stirring often, until sweetener is completely dissolved.

If you prefer, you can combine sweetener with 2 cups of water and stir, stir, stir until the sweetener is all dissolved. This takes a little longer, but doesn’t involve the stove.

Combine Ingredients and Stir

Combine lemon juice, syrup, and 3 cups water (so you’ve used 4 cups total), and stir well. Taste! You want it a little strong if it is to be served over ice, but if it’s much stronger than you like, add up to another cup of water. Place some lemon slices in the pitcher for looks and added zing. Chill and serve. Yum!

Pretty Variation

If you have a little time and some hibiscus tea bags handy (like Red Zinger), replace 2 cups of water with 2 cups of strong hibiscus tea. Now your lemonade is in the pink! Float a few mint, basil, or cilantro leaves in it for bright color contrast.

Whichever kind you make, homemade lemonade is the best. Now you’re ready to sit back, relax, and lift your glass to toast the summer rather than letting it toast you. Happy sipping!

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