Sunday, July 1, 2012

Real Lemonade

I can't understand why anyone would  buy a carton or bottle of lemonade from the grocery store. Most of the ready-made lemonades available are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and ingredients. You're basically drinking flavored sugar-water with additives that taste like lemons and smell like lemons but aren't really lemons at all. It's all man-made. In a lab. Yes, I know some brands contain real lemon juice but trust me; it's such a scant amount that it really makes no difference.

Okay. I understand the convenience factor.  You're hot and thirsty and there's nothing easier than opening up a carton and pouring a cold, refreshing glass of the stuff. I get it. I really do.  When I was pregnant 23 years ago, I was totally addicted to Minute Maid Lemonade. I drank it by the gallon. It was the middle of August, we were in the midst of heatwave, and I was carrying a ten pound child. I was hot and bothered and thirsty. This was long before I knew about health, wellness and REAL food. That artificially flavored sugar-water was a life saver for me during that time. The very thought of it now makes me cringe.

These days, when I enjoy lemonade; I make it myself. From real lemons. I serve it to guests. I pour it into chilled glasses with plenty of ice, they suck it down, and they always say the same thing. "Oh my. This is so good, but what is it?"

It's real lemonade, people! Made with lemons. It's shocking that most folks have no clue what REAL tastes like. Even more shocking is that everyone really enjoys my home made lemonade, but if given a choice, they prefer the fake stuff. Fake lemonade is what they are accustomed to and their taste-buds and olfactory senses (smell) are expecting to experience something different when they raise a glass to their lips. I will be totally honest with you about  real vs. artificial.  Your senses will take a little bit of time to adjust; especially if you were born and raised on nothing but the fake stuff. Over time, however, you will crave the real thing and anything artificial will taste like poison.

Making homemade lemonade is super easy. You just need to plan ahead a little.  If you prepare it first thing in the morning, it will be ready to go in an hour. Or less. If you have plenty of  ice, you can serve it immediately. I like to let it chill in the fridge for awhile to allow the flavors to blend. If I know I am going to need plenty of lemonade on hand, I squeeze lots of lemons in advance and store the juice in a closed container in the refrigerator. This way, I can mix up big pitchers of it quickly. You can use a juicer to squeeze your lemons if you want. I like using an old-fashioned citrus juicer, like this one:

All that twisting is good for your wrists. It prevents your joints from getting old and stiff. Another great benefit from squeezing your own lemons this way is the gorgeous fragrance. If you have a case of the blues, citrus is the perfect mood elevator. Trust me. You'll start feeling better in no time.

So....... how do you make homemade lemonade? Here's my recipe:

3 cups of cold, filtered water
3/4 cup Florida Crystals sugar **
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 large lemons)
additional lemon slices ( I like cutting them in thin rounds rather than slices. Your preference)
ice cubes

In a 1 1/2 quart glass pitcher, stir together about 1 cup of the water, lemon juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Add remaining water and stir vigorously to blend well. If desired, chill in the refrigerator.  Pour over ice and garnish with the lemon slices.

That's it!!!

Now isn't this the best stuff you've ever tasted?

**Note: I prefer to use sugar in my lemonade. Florida Crystals is an unbleached, minimally processed, vegan brand made from organic sugar cane.  If you prefer using something other than sugar; here are some suggestions and guidelines for you: Natural Alternatives to Sugar.   I must beg of you, however, to never, ever consider artificial, low calorie sweeteners.