Friday, January 13, 2006


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Lemonade is a drink that I associate with summer and the record-setting 88F/31C weather we saw here in Los Angeles last week was enough to spark my taste for it. Not to mention the fact that my lemon tree is practically falling over under the weight of a tremendous number of lemons and making lemonade is a good way to use up a few of them.
The problem with lemonade is the sugar. Even if your lemon juice is warm, it is a challenging task to dissolve the right amount of sugar into it. There will almost always be a grainy layer of sugar at the bottom of the pitcher, a paste that never gets incorporated. The trick is to make symple syrup to sweeten your lemonade. A simple syrup is water with sugar, usually an equal amount, dissolved in it. The syrup ensures tht no sugar will go unabsorbed in your drink, allowing you to achieve the perfect sweetness.
One other, though smaller, problem with lemonade is that putting ice into the pitcher dilutes it. This problem, since the sugar was a syrup, can be solved either by adding cold water to the juice or by simply refrigerating until cold, without adding extra ice to the pitcher.
Lemonade is very much a matter of taste. Sometimes I want something tart, while other times I want something quite sweet. Ths amount of sugar here is in between, though a bit on the sweet side. Don't feel bound to it. Use more or less, according to your tastes.

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
5 cups cold water

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, cooking until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
Pour lemon juice into a 2-quart or larger pitcher. Add cold water. Add about 1 cup sugar syrup, to taste, and stir to incorporate. Chill until cold and ready to serve.
Makes 6 servings.

For the sugar-rimmed glasses: Sprinkle 1-2 tbsp sugar on a small plate. Run a wedge of lemon around the rim of your glass and dip glass into sugar. Fill with lemonade.

Extra lemony - Add 1-2 tsp lemon zest to the sugar/water mixture as you make the syrup.
Hint of vanilla - Stir 1/2 tsp vanilla into the syrup when you remove it from the heat.