An old Southern lemonade recipe that kicks lemonade up a notch by utilizing lemon zest for a beautiful and flavorful drink!
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This lemonade recipe is tried and true. Given to me by a military neighbor back in Virginia Beach, it’s honestly the best lemonade I (and anyone else who’s had a cup) ever tasted.
Not super sweet, not too tart, it’s absolutely thirst-quenching on those dog-days of summer, which are coming dangerously close now. And in the south, the heat is something we endure with a cup of lemonade that doesn’t burn our throats. Don’t you hate that? Those over-acidic lemonades kill me!
Since my family lives in Miami now, it’s going to be sweltering! I was enjoying those 74 degree F days of February…
Old fashioned southern lemonade is a bit more time-consuming than my ‘shake up a lemon with some sugar water’ country fair lemonade, but I consider this recipe to be much better than a typical pitcher of lemonade.
I love a good glass of lemonade in the heat of spring and summer, especially while sitting out on my patio and writing out a new post.
I.e. I’m drinking a glass right now.
Let’s talk lemonade techniques.
So sure, this seems like a lot for some lemons and sugar water. But! I consider these steps key to making picture (or pitcher ;p) perfect lemonade: the zest simmered down in the simple syrup brings out a beautiful yellow color and gives the lemonade great flavor from the zest’s oils. And a lemon syrup isn’t a bad thing to bottle up for someone as a gift, I’m just sayin’.
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- Zest of two lemons, in thick strips
- Juice of 6-8 lemons
- 2 cups sugar
- 7 cups water
- In a medium sized saucepan, heat sugar, 2 cups water and zest over medium heat. Bring to a lively simmer, not a boil, for about 8-10 minutes or until the syrup becomes a light yellow color from the zest. Turn off heat.
- In a large pitcher, add lemon juice. Strain syrup with a mesh sieve into the pitcher to catch zest. Pour in remaining water. Taste for sweetness and tartness. Too sweet, add water. Not enough tartness, juice another lemon.
- Serve with ice.
See ya in the next post!
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.