Skip the store-bought sugary junk this summer and learn how to make lemonade without the sticky syrups and artificial ingredients.
All you’ll need is a fruit basket full of lemons, organic cane sugar, and filtered water to enjoy a homemade glass of lemonade. Plus, we’re showing you how to spice up your lemonade with fun flavors like lavender and thyme!
The key to the perfect glass of homemade lemonade is using ripe, juicy lemons. Meyer lemons, assumed to be a hybrid of lemons and mandarins (or oranges), are our favorite to use since they are naturally sweeter. They lack the strong acidity of traditional lemons and instead only have a slight tartness allowing this recipe to use a bit less sweetener.
Meyer lemons can usually be found year round in grocery stores but they peak during late winter to spring. Meyer lemons ripen and spoil more quickly than regular lemons so when shopping for them, look for a firm outer peel with bright shiny skin.
The farmers market is the perfect place to pick up your ingredients for this lemonade. You can find locally grown Meyer lemons (or any other kind of lemons, or limes) which will be freshly picked and perfect for lemonade. The farmers market is also the place to go when searching for culinary lavender as you can likely find at least one farmer who grows lavender. Confirm with the farmer that the lavender is indeed the culinary variety.
Lemons are chock full of vitamin C, an essential water soluble nutrient which helps our bodies in many ways. As a result of their high vitamin C content, lemons are an antioxidant food. The antioxidants in lemons help neutralize free radicals in the bodies, which can help to ward off inflammation and may even help those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Lemons also aid digestion by increasing movement within the digestive tract. The lemon’s acidity also has detoxifying effects on the body helping to keep the good in and the bad out.
For a white-sugar-free variety, try agave or stevia to sweeten this up. The general rule for substituting agave for cane sugar is ⅔ cup of agave to 1 cup of cane sugar. If you choose stevia, then only use 1 teaspoon to substitute 1 cup of sugar.
Opt for heavier lemons with thinner skins since they will yield more juice. Before juicing, roll the lemon on a hard surface (like the kitchen table or counter) and press down on it with your palm as you do so. This will help release the juices from the membranes giving you more liquid to use in the lemonade.
Make your lemonade fancier by garnishing it with a lemon peel. Before juicing, peel the outer skin of the lemon using a vegetable peeler until it’s a long curly lemon. Garnish each glass with a lemon peel.
How To Make Lemonade
- 3 cups chilled filtered water, divided
- 12-14 medium sized lemons*
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- Heat 1 cup of filtered water and cane sugar over medium-high heat in a large pot. Let simmer and whisk until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Using a lemon juicer, juice the lemons until you have 1 ¼ cups lemon juice. Pour into a pitcher and add the sugar water and stir well. Add the remaining 2 cups of chilled filtered water and stir again.
- Serve lemonade over ice or chill in the fridge until ready to serve!
If you use regular lemons instead of Meyer, you may need to add in a few more tablespoons of sweetener. Simply add one tablespoon at a time to sweeten to taste.
Tasty Twists on Lemonade
Now that you know how to make lemonade, put your skills to the test. Make your lemonade a bit more unique with these tasty twists on lemonade. Just use the same ingredients and measurements above as a base.
Bring 1 cup of filtered water to boil and pour over 3 tablespoons of dried culinary lavender. Let steep for 10 minutes. Using a fine mesh sieve, transfer the liquid to a pitcher. Add the sugar, lemon juice, cane sugar, and remaining 2 cups chilled water. Stir until well combined.
Blood Orange Lemonade
Substitute two of the lemons with blood oranges and proceed with the recipe as instructed. Enjoy the subtle orange twist!
Bring 1 cup of filtered water to boil and add in 1 bunch of fresh thyme and 1 cup of cane sugar. Reduce heat to medium-high and stir until sugar has dissolved. Using a fine mesh sieve, transfer the liquid to a pitcher. Add the lemon juice and remaining 2 cups chilled water. Stir until well combined.
Chia Seed Lemonade
Simply add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to the pitcher of lemonade and stir well. Let chill in the fridge for 10 minutes, allowing the chia seeds to thicken.
Images via Karissa Bowers