A classic southern porch kinda drink, and while it’s typically a hot sweaty summer beverage, it’s good all year round. In fact, i can’t think of a better way to be getting some vitamin C than sipping a nice cold glass of this stuffs. With just the right amount of tart and sweet, the subtle musky perfume of vanilla to smooth everything out, it might be something you enjoy more by the pitcher than by the glass.
4g | 2 tsp lemon zest
240g/ml | 1 cup lemon juice
2.2g/ml | 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (if using "double strength" then reduce by half)
175-200g | 3/4-1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
240g/ml | 1 cup water
a cup of ice (not an exact measurement on this one)
water to bring everything up to 2 liters | 1/2 gallon
thin lemon slices for serving (optional)
heat the cup of water and the sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved
remove from heat and stir in your zest, cover and allow to infuse for at least 20 minutes (it's ok if you forget and it goes longer, you can even do this the night before)
put your ice into your pitcher (or whatever container you can use a strainer over if straining) and pour in some water, a cup or two is fine
pour in your syrup (through strainer, if using) and give it a few stirs to even out the temp (you don't wanna cook your lemon juice) and then pour in your lemon juice
Add enough water to bring the total volume up to 2 liters (or half a gallon, the half gallon will be slightly stronger in flavor, it actually should be about 68oz, which you can do if you have a large enough pitcher)
stir it all up and serve over ice, preferably with some thinly sliced lemons for extra snaz
you can further jazz this up with blended or whole fruit, rim the glasses with some lemon sugar, throw in some fresh mint, use it for cocktails....whatever your tongue is telling you is probably good. IF you're planning on making this into adult beverages you can reduce the amount of water added by about 240ml | 1 cup and sub it with the alcohol of your choice (i'd suggest vodka, limoncello, berry liqueur, or white rum), this will give you about 1 shot of alcohol per 350ml | 12oz (which will fill a pint glass with ice) or keep it slightly concentrated to mix up later.
4 simple ingredients: lemons, sugar, vanilla, and water. You definitely want to use a less refined sugar here that still has some of it’s molasses intact, it elevates the flavors beyond belief, especially the vanilla. Demerara and turbinado would be my first choices (i used demerara), though i imagine this would be quite good with coconut sugar, agave nectar, or jaggery. If you don’t have any of those on hand, you could use some brown sugar+white sugar, or add a teensy bit of molasses to some white sugar. If you’re in a total bind and only have white sugar, go for it, it will still be good [but really, don’t]
*gasp* naked lemons! Naughty lemons! Sitting there without their clothes on! Overt lemons! Avert your eyes!
I couldn’t help myself, anyway….zest your lemons before juicing, avoid getting any of the white pith (which is totally bitter) and if you have fingernail polish on, good idea to use gloves (the lemon oil can really jack up those nails, and no one wants nail polish in their lemonade.) I know you may be going “duh, of course you zest them first” but i tell you, even i’ve gotten ahead of myself and started juicing before zesting and that makes zesting more of a pain than you’d think.
The secret to a truly crazy fantastic citrus drink is often the zest, it punches up the flavor without adding more zing and provides a crazy wonderful perfume to the bev. For this recipe i created a heavy syrup, removed it from the heat, and allowed it to cool (covered! don’t let those volatile oils escape!) with the zest in it to infuse. If you’re using a microplaner, you can always leave the zest in, if you’re not a pulpy person, strain it out. I like to strain it, then pour the lemon juice and water through the zest in the strainer to wash as much yumminess into the ade as i can.
That’s it! The nice part of using the syrup is not having to stir forever waiting for the stupid sugar granules to dissolve, you just pour everything into your pitcher, stir it up and serve to your favorite people [or grab the pitcher and hide in a dark corner glugging it all down, that’s fine too, you do you] it’s a wonderful accompaniment to a porch swing on a hot day, a brunch, use as a base for a cocktail, alongside your favorite southern dishes, or just whenever you wanna quench your thirst and de-parch.