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'Home Made Lemonade'

Article Length: 800 words Photographer: Paul Williams Author: Paul Williams  
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Lemonade | Food Article Content Syndication - Images by Paul Williams
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Lemonade is a global drink with many different variations around the world. It is traditionally drunk in the USA, which it presumably inherited from the tradition of drinking it in Europe, the Middle East, India, Pakistan and all the way around the world to Australia & New Zealand. In each of these countries the term lemonade can mean something very different ranging from a clear carbonated drink to a cloudy still drink. The one thing that is agreed on is that home made ice cold lemonade cuts through a thirst on a hot summers day like no other drink.

The origins of the lemon has puzzled experts who have narrowed the possibilities to the area of Assam in India , northern Myanmar (Burma) & neighboring China. Lemon growing had spread to Iraq & Egypt by the late 9th century AD, from here its cultivation was spread by the Arabs as they conquered most of Spain, Greece and Sicily. By the 15th century Genoa was producing lemons and Christopher Columbus took lemon seeds to the new world in 1493.

Lemons have long been prized for their unique flavor and scent that combine well with food. Lemons are a wonderful meat tenderizer and are used in marinades and as a preservative. They are a popular ingredient in Arabic and southern Mediterranean cooking as well as in drinks like the Sicilian Limoncello.

The image portrayed in cowboy movies of kindly bespectacled grandmothers, complete with floral patterned dresses, serving pitchers of cold lemonade to their grandchildren on the wooden porch of her colonial house is as iconically American as the Stars & Stripes. To some Europeans, used to fizzy clear lemonade, the idea of "Homemade Lemonade" is a very exotic idea, and the cloudy pitchers of drink that the Grandmother served up looked very mysterious. How did these Grannies hand make lemonade?

The lemon is a marvelous culinary fruit with a sharp citric flavored juice and a tangy rind, or zest, with aromatic oils. The pith should not be eaten as it is very bitter and the pips should be discarded.

There are as many recipes for "Home Made Lemonade" as there are Grannies in the USA. The principle is the same though. If possible buy unwaxed lemons or wash the lemons well to remove any protective wax. Carefully peel away the lemon zest, using a sharp paring knife or potato peeler, leaving as little of the white pith on the zest as possible. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into heat proof bowl. If you have not got a squeezer push the prongs of a fork into the lemon and squeeze the lemon around the fork prongs. This can be more efficient that a lot of squeezers as twisting the fork gets all the juice out. Sugar is then added to the lemon zest and juice in the bowl and boiling water is poured over the mixture and it is left to cool and infuse.

What proportions to use are a question of debate and the sweetness of your tooth. A starting guide would be as follows.

6 large lemons (buy 7 and keep one for slicing)
100g (3.5oz) granulated white sugar
1 Lt.. (2.2 pints) of boiling water

This recipe should create a mixture that is not too sweet for those who like the sharpness of lemons but, if not sweet enough, sugar can be added and stirred until it dissolves to taste. With a little experimentation you will soon work out your own secret recipe for next time. Once the lemonade mixture has cooled down put it in the fridge to chill. If your family hates drinks with bits of pulp don't forget to strain the lemonade before serving.

Serve chilled over ice with slices of lemon and if you like a bit of extra freshness add some mint leaves.

When you make your lemonade mixture, If you half the amount of boiling water to 1/2 Lt.. (22 fl-oz) to make the mixture stronger and keep the sugar to 100g (3.5oz), when it has chilled you can serve it diluted half & half with carbonated water to give the drink a bit of sparkle. This stronger lemon mixture will also keep well in a bottle in the fridge so you can also use it to make cocktails. Mix it with white rum or vodka, mint leaves, a slice of lemon and sparkling water to taste. Name it after yourself and hey presto you have just invented your own summer cocktail.

Once you start experimenting you will soon be inventing lots of delicious lemon drink variations that will keep you refreshed through the summer. Also, If any "young folk" visit you will be able to put on a Southern USA accent and offer them "Home made lemonade". Oh happy days!

 

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