Old-fashioned summertime lemonade & limoncello

Remind me again, is that a lemon or a lime tree,” my husband asked? My parents gave us a beautiful lemon tree in the spring. It’s finally looking like it will be ready to harvest soon. 

I’ve learned that lemon trees are grateful sun worshipers…ours looks like it’s trying to hug the sun. Thankfully, lemon trees are happy in a container and have been protected from our lemon loving dogs. 

Our family loves the refreshing summer flavor of lemons in iced tea, ice cream, muffins and most of all lemonade.

My daughter and I made a batch last week and have savored every sip.

Lemonade

  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice
  • Zest from one lemon
  • Cold or sparkling water
  • Lemon slices, optional
  • Mint leaves for garnish
  1. Measure the sugar and water into a sauce pan (we like to add a vanilla bean). While stirring with a wooden spoon, bring the mixture to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Let cool slightly and remove the vanilla bean.
  2. Add fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest to the sugar syrup. Cool completely. Pour the lemonade syrup into a quart jar. Cover tightly with the lid. The syrup can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 weeks.
  3. When you’re ready to serve the lemonade, put some ice cubes in the bottom of a glass. Our ¼ cup of the lemon syrup over the ice cubes. I have never met a beverage I didn’t think would taste better bubbly…add sparkling water or Prosecco if you’d like a boozy lemonade. 
  4. Float a thin slice of lemon and, maybe a fresh mint leaf on top. Your family will enjoy about 14 glasses of lemonade.
  5. Pink lemonade: add 1/2 cup grenadine syrup to the jar of lemonade syrup and stir. Strawberry lemonade: add 2 tablespoons of puree of fresh strawberries into each glass. Limeade: Replace lemon with lime juice and lime zest.
 

Edouard Manet, “The Lemon” 1880. Manet brings life to this ripe lemon.

If you have plenty of lemons to harvest, you might as well make limoncello too. One sip and you’ll feel like you’re in Italy. This makes a nice after dinner drink and also a really special gift. With its simple ingredients, it’s easy to make, but requires patience…it takes several weeks until the final product is ready to drink. Be careful! It’s stronger than you think! My husband and I wobbled back to our hotel room in Positano. 

Limoncello

  • 4 Cups 80 proof vodka (750ml)
  • 2 pounds organic lemon skin only 
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  1. Steep the peel of two pounds of lemons in four cups of vodka for one week at room temperature.
  2. Stir three cups of sugar and three cups of water in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves; cool.
  3. Add to the vodka mixture and stir.
  4. Strain the liquid into bottles with a funnel; seal and chill. 
  5. Set aside for a few weeks to allow the liqueur to mellow. 

I imagine that Jackie has a cool glass of lemonade on her left side on this perfect summer day.

Wishing you a summers day like Jackie. Cool off with lemonade during the day and limoncello in the evening. Cin cin! xx

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