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A&E >  Food

Lemonade, a dozen different ways

Flavored homemade lemonade, like this watermelon version, is a sweet-tart and simple refreshment for summer. (TIMOTHY GRAYSON / Special to Food)
Flavored homemade lemonade, like this watermelon version, is a sweet-tart and simple refreshment for summer. (TIMOTHY GRAYSON / Special to Food)
By Timothy Grayson Correspondent

Homemade lemonade is a very different drink from the stuff sold commercially.

It’s also simple to make and offers a classic, delicious taste of summer. The key is to make sure it’s sweet and tart in equal proportions.

The classic base lemonade recipe below makes fairly sweet lemonade so reduce the amount of sugar if you prefer a tart beverage.

For a twist on the base, use limes instead of lemons to make limeade.

For an adult version, add vodka, gin or rum and, if desired, substitute sparkling water, tonic water or soda to give it fizz.

Freeze thin slices of lemons or limes – by placing one slice in each section of an ice-cube tray – to jazz up your summertime drink presentation.

Below, find a dozen variations to classic lemonade to help get you through the rest of the warm weather this summer.

Classic Lemonade Base

For simple syrup:

1 cup of water

1 cup of white granulated sugar

Then add:

1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice, 4-6 lemons

3-4 cups of cold water

Make simple syrup by heating sugar and water gently over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. When the syrup has cooled slightly, add it to a glass or plastic container with lemon juice and water. Taste the mixture for strength, and add more water if desired.

Refrigerate the beverage for about an hour, and serve it with plenty of ice and slices of lemon.

Homemade lemonade will keep for about a week in the fridge if stored in an airtight container. Make sure the bottles are very clean or, ideally, sterilized before pouring in the liquid.

Yield: 6 servings

Strawberry Lemonade

Place 1 cup of strawberries into blender and process until smooth. Pour the puree into the classic lemonade base mixture and stir well, Serve with slices of lemon and sliced strawberries.

Honey-Rosemary Lemonade

When making the simple syrup, add 4 large sprigs of fresh rosemary and substitute sugar with 1 ½ cups of honey and whisk in and heat until fully incorporated. Strain liquid through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth to remove the rosemary.

Vanilla-Pear Lemonade

When preparing the simple syrup, add 2 pears, cored and chopped, as well as 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and replace white sugar with ½ cup of brown sugar, and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Strain the mixture before serving. Then, add the lemon juice and water and serve with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Peach Lemonade

Add 2 cups of peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped fresh peaches to the simple syrup mix and puree while warm. Then strain through sieve to remove solids, and add lemon juice and water. Serve with slices of lemons and fresh peach wedges.

Huckleberry Lemonade

Add ¾ cup of fresh or frozen huckleberries to the simple syrup mixture and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Then, strain mixture and add lemon juice and water. Serve with ice and add a 1/4 cup of whole huckleberries into the finished lemonade as a garnish.

Watermelon Lemonade

Working in batches, place 3 cups of cold water or lemon-lime soda into a blender with 5 cups of seedless cubed watermelon and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add fresh lemon juice and simple syrup, and serve with fresh watermelon slices.

Pineapple Lemonade

Make the classic lemonade base using 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, 1 cup canned unsweetened pineapple juice and .2 cups of cold water. Serve with fresh pineapple slices and a lime wedge.

Honey Mint Lemonade

When making simple syrup, add 1/3 cup of packed roughly chopped mint leaves and heat sugar mixture for at least 3 minutes, then allow to cool. Strain the mint leaves from the sugar water mixture and add the lemon and 3 tablespoons of honey. Serve with sprigs of fresh mint as a garnish.

Cherry Limeade

Substitute lemon juice with fresh lime juice in classic recipe and add 12 ounces of thawed pitted frozen cherries and puree until fine and mix with simple syrup. Then strain and add water and ice and serve with a wedge of fresh lime.

Passion Fruit Tea Lemonade

Add 6 regular-sized passion fruit flavored tea bags to simple syrup mix and steep while heating the mixture. Then add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Strain to remove teabags. Add lemon juice and cold water or milk. Chill mixture and serve.

Brazilian Coconut Lemonade

Make simple syrup, then substitute lime juice for lemon juice. Replace water with chilled coconut water and a splash of heavy cream or coconut milk. Serve with lime wedge and top with toasted shredded coconut. For an added touch serve in a coconut shell.

Marionberry Lemonade Cider

Add 1 cup of fresh or frozen marionberries to warm simple syrup and blend until smooth. Strain with fine mesh screen or cheesecloth. Replace water with apple cider or hard cider, and add lemon juice. Garnish with a few fresh berries and a lemon slice.

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