Summer is lemonade season. But what about limeade, it’s oft-ignored sister?
You can easily make a quart of limeade with a can of frozen concentrate. Limeade is a refreshing base for a cocktail. Fill a rocks or highball glass with limeade and ice; then add gin, tequila or vodka to taste.
While frozen concentrate is slightly easier, this limeade recipe can be made in 15 minutes. Give it a try: Friends and family will find it more special, since its so much more rarely served than lemonade.
We adapted this recipe from one by Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes. Prep time is just 15 minutes, plus chilling (or if you can’t wait, add ice cubes).
As with any cold drink, it’s easier to make simple syrup rather than trying to get straight sugar to completely dissolve. It takes only as much time as the water to boil. If for whatever reason you don’t want to make simple syrup, superfine sugar is a second choice.
For a more exciting lime flavor, the simple syrup is infused with lime zest. Grate extra lime zest for a glass rimmer.
The proportion of sugar is a guideline. You can use less if you like your drink less sweet. Also, limes can have different levels* of tartness. If you want to hedge your bets, use only 3/4 of the simple syrup, taste the finished limeade, and decide if you want to add the rest.
Ingredients For 1 Quart
1 tablespoon grated zest (from 1 lime)
1 cup lime juice (from about 4-6 Persian/Tahitian limes)
3/4 cup to 1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups water
Fresh mint sprigs
1. MAKE the simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, one cup of water and the lime zest, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve any remaining sugar granules, remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool.
The amount of sugar is a guideline, it depends on how sweet you like your limeade and how tart your particular limes are.
2. STRAIN out the lime zest: Place a strainer over a bowl or serving pitcher and pour the sugar syrup through it, straining out the zest.
3. ADD the lime juice and 2 cups of water and taste. If it’s too sweet, add a bit more lime juice. Add several sprigs of fresh mint.
4. CHILL or serve immediately over ice.
Berry lemonade: Mix in berry purée (recipe). The limeade in photo #3 is deep purple from a cup of blueberries. Raspberry limeade is also terrific.
Cucumber lemonade: Peel and dice 1 large cucumber and purée in a blender with the simple syrup and lime juice [photo #4]. Garnish with a cucumber wheel. Add some gin or vodka!
Fizzy lemonade: Substitute sparkling water for one or both cups of the tap water.
Glass rim: Mix equal amounts of zest and coarse sugar in a shallow bowl. Dip the rims of the glasses 1/4 inch into a bowl of water, then twist in the zest-sugar blend [photo #2].
More intense flavor: Muddle mint leaves or cucumber slices in the pitcher for more mint/cucumber flavor.
Patriotic lemonade: For Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day festivities, set out three pitchers: raspberry lemonade (red), plain lemonade (white) and blackberry lemonade (blue).
*Limes have a slightly higher acid content: On average, it’s about 6% for limes and 4.5% for lemons. Lemons have more fructose (fruit sugar): 2% for lemons, and between 0.5% and 0.75% for limes. Sugar has a suppressive effect on the perception of sourness, so lemon juice will appear to taste a bit less sour than lime juice. The composition of acids in the two also differ. The acid in lemon juice is almost entirely citric acid, which also makes up most of the acid in limes. However, limes include about 10% each of succinic acid and malic acid which have an effect on their flavor. Source: Craft Cocktails at Home by Kevin Liu.
 Mint is a delicious complement to limeade (photo Elise Bauer | Simply Recipes).
 Make a lime zest and sugar rim (photo courtesy Saint Marc Pub-Cafe | Huntington Beach, CA.
 Blueberry limeade, Here’s the recipe from Ciao Florentina.
 Cucumber limeade: Just add sliced cucumbers. Here’s a recipe from Saveur.
THE HISTORY OF LIMES
It is believed that lemons derived from limes. In fact, if limes are left on the tree to fully ripen, they turn yellow and are indistinguishable from lemons. They’re harvested when green to prevent confusion at the market.
Persian lime. The principal supermarket lime, the Persian/Tahitian lime, originated somewhere in the Pacific Rim but more than that is unknown. It is believed to be a hybrid of the Key/Mexican/Bearss lime and citron, a variety of lemon. It may or may not have been hybridized in Persia; the Key/Mexican lime appears to have arrived in the Middle East and Africa, via Arab traders, by 1000 C.E. Crusaders brought it to Western Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries; however, mosaics of lemon and lime trees have been found in remains of Roman villas. The lime was first grown in large quantities in Persia (Iran) and Babylonia (Iraq).
Key lime. The Key lime/Mexican lime lime (small, round, yellow flesh) arose in South East Asia, in the Indo-Malayan region.
The names lemon and lime are derived from the same Arabic word, limun.
The first known mention of limes in Western literature is Sir Thomas Herbert’s Travels, published in 1677. He speaks of finding “oranges, lemons, and limes” on the island of Mohelia off Mozambique.
Here’s a full lime history, the difference between Persian/Tahitian and Key/Mexican limes, and a photo glossary of the different types of limes the world over.
Our favorite example: The blood lime of Australia is red inside and out!