When life gives you lemons... make an Instructable out of it.
If you've ever made lemonade you know that it can be very satisfying. It takes a little work, but the end result can be over-the-top refreshing. It can really make a party or lunch. But what about adding a little something extra to your lemonade? Like ginger or mint. I know, some of you out there wrinkle your nose at the idea of gentrifying classic drinks like country lemonade with high-falutin' ingredients, but this recipe has some mellow additions that aren't at all overwhelming and should satisfy even the pickiest juice drinker. It's all about controlling your proportions.
What you'll need:
- 20-25 lemons (to yield 4 cups of lemon juice)
- 2-3 cups sugar
- 1/2 pound of ginger
- 1 bunch mint
- Copious amounts of ice and water
Note: This recipe makes 1 1/2 to 2 gallons of lemonade, depending on how strong you want your lemonade to be. I believe that if you're going to go to the trouble of making lemonade, you should go big.
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Step 1: Make Ginger Simple Syrup
This step takes the longest so I would start with the syrup. Combine 4 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar in a good-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off your ginger, then cut it into rounds of about a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick. Dump it into your syrup water.
If 1/2 pound of ginger sounds like a lot, it is. But don't worry. You're ginger syrup will mellow out after you reduce this down over time. After it boils, bring it down to a simmer and let it reduce down for 45 minutes. Discard the ginger solids and reserve the syrup.
Step 2: Squeezin' Time
Squeeze all the lemons. I strongly recommend using one of the glass bowl-style lemon squeezers, but the hand-held vice-grip style devices work, too. They're just not as good or efficient. If you have a juicer, go crazy, but you'll probably need to peel the lemons first. At the end of this process, I had 4 cups of amazingly delicious lemon juice. That's quite a lot.
I used Meyer lemons from a friend's tree, which are sweeter and larger than the kind you get at the grocery. If you can get these, wonderful. If you can't get these and you also like your lemonade extra sweet, you may want to add additional sugar either to your syrup or to your finished lemonade.
Step 3: Mixology
Once you have your syrup and lemons, roughly cut your mint or pull out most of the large stems. Place some of the mint into each jar or pitcher of lemonade
I made four different jars of lemonade because I didn't have a giant container. One reason I recommend making multiple pitchers or jars is that you can experiment with the first one to get the proportions the way you like them. Some of my pitchers were different sizes, but the proportions I mixed together were the same for each container:
- 1-2 tablespoons mint leaves
- 1 part lemon juice
- 3 parts simple syrup
- 7 parts water
Step 4: Pour Over Ice
I think this is an important detail so I am giving it a separate step. I like to make very strong concentrated lemonade that is designed to be poured over a full glass of ice. The ice will melt and slowly dilute the lemonade. You can put it all into giant tub with ice if you prefer, but once the ice melts you'll have to keep adding more ice to keep the entire tub cold. This will ultimately dilute your lemonade too much IMHO.
I made this for a group lunch, and everyone tore through it quickly and drank every drop. The ginger wasn't too strong, the lemons were especially fresh and sweet, and the mint was just a hint.