Nothing quenches serious thirst on a hot Fourth of July weekend like a tall, ice-cold glass of lemonade. This light, refreshing beverage is a nostalgic summer favorite with everyone in my family, and I can’t keep enough of it stocked in my refrigerator to meet the demand.
My recipe is the result of a quest to make the perfect lemonade after store-bought brands consistently disappointed. I tried several popular commercial offerings that were either too sweet, too tart, or tasted like fake lemon flavoring. In frustration, I began experimenting in my home kitchen. Since we have a prolific Meyer lemon tree in our backyard it seemed logical to, pardon the pun, “make lemonade out of lemons”.
After experimenting with several recipes, I found what I consider to be the best balance of sweet and tart using fresh squeezed lemon juice, organic sugar, and water. That’s it! Just three simple ingredients. No additives or preservatives either.
In the process I discovered that it’s economical, healthy, and fun to make your own lemonade. When my lemon tree is heavy with fruit I juice several pounds of citrus at once, then bottle the excess in pre-measured quantities and freeze for later use. If we’re running low on lemonade, I grab a jar of frozen juice and set it on the kitchen counter for a couple of hours. When it’s thawed, I pour the juice in a large pitcher, add water, and stir in homemade organic simple syrup. Viola! My husband swears this homemade lemonade is the best he’s ever tasted.
If you really want to take it up a notch, try adding my secret summer ingredient: fresh basil leaves! I stumbled upon this interesting addition while perusing the menu at Boca Kitchen on a recent trip to Tampa, Florida. Their grown-up rendition included a shot of vodka (which I also highly recommend), but I opted for the “virgin” drink instead. It was so refreshing and delicious I knew I had to recreate it at home.
Serve iced Basil Lemonade in wide-mouth mason jars at your Fourth of July soiree garnished with fresh basil. For a festive touch, chill a bottle of quality vodka on the side so adults can make a Basil Lemonade cocktail. Cheers everyone!
HOMEMADE BASIL LEMONADE from Farminista’s Feast
Printable recipe: HOMEMADE BASIL LEMONADE
- 1 1/3 cups organic sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 8-10 lemons depending on size)
- additional water
- fresh basil leaves (3 large leaves per serving).
- To make simple syrup, add sugar and water to a saucepan and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves (about 5 minutes). Set aside to cool.
- While the syrup is cooling, juice the lemons and reserve 1 1/2 cups of juice. Freeze remaining juice (use pre-measured 1 1/2 cup containers for later use).
- Put lemon juice in a large pitcher (12 cup capacity). Add 8 cups of cold water and stir in the cool simple syrup.
- For each serving, tear 3 basil leaves into small pieces and put in the bottom of each glass. Add ice and fill with a little lemonade. Stir to “muddle” the leaves & release the essence into the lemonade. Fill to top with more lemonade. Garnish with fresh basil and a straw.