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TIP OF THE DAY: Make Fancy Lemonade

Lemon Grove

Lemon Tree

Meyer Lemons

[1] A lemon grove (photo courtesy Condé Nast Traveler.[2] Ornamental lemon trees can be grown indoors (photo courtesy BrighterBlooms.com. [3] Meyer lemons, less tart than the conventional supermarket lemon (photo courtesy GoodEggs.com).

 

It took a while for man to turn lemons into lemonade, the quintessential American summer drink.

THE HISTORY OF LEMONADE

The origin of the lemon is still not certain, although food historians believe it may be Assam in northwestern India, where lemons have been cultivated for more than 2,500 years.

It was brought to northern Burma and to China, across Persia and the Arab world to the Mediterranean.

  • Arab traders brought the lemons to the Middle East and Africa sometime after 100 C.E.
  • They are believed to have been introduced into southern Italy around 200 C.E.; and was being cultivated in Egypt and in Sumer, the southern portion of Mesopotamia, a few centuries later.
  • Citron, a different citrus, looking like a larger lemon with a very thick rind and very little pulp or juice, seems to have been known by Jews before the time of Christ. References to the round, yellow fruit grown by the Romans were to citron. The lemon does not appear to have been grown in the Middle East in pre-Islamic times.
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    But for many centuries in the Middle East, lemons were not widely cultivated as food.

  • They were largely an ornamental plant in Middle Eastern gardens until about the 10th century. Arabs introduced the lemon to Spain in the 11th century, and by 1150, the lemon was widely cultivated in the Mediterranean.
  • The first clear written reference to the lemon tree dates from the early 10th century, in an Arabic work on farming.
  • Crusaders returning from Palestine brought lemons to the rest of Europe. The lemon came into full culinary use in Europe in the 15th century; the first major cultivation in Europe began in Genoa.
  • The name “lemon” first appeared around 1350–1400, and derives from the Middle English word limon. Limon is an Old French word, indicating that the lemon entered England via France. The Old French derives from the Italian limone, which dates back to the Arabic laymun or limun, from the Persian word limun.
  • Lemons came to the New World in 1493, when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola. Spanish conquest spread the lemon throughout the New World, where it was still used mainly used as an ornamental plant, and for medicine.
  • Lemons were grown in California by 1751; and in the 1800s in Florida, they began to be used in cooking and flavoring. Commercial cultivation of lemons took hold in California and Florida in the 1800s.
  • Around 200 cultivars (distinct varieties) of lemon can be found in the U.S. alone. Some are best for lemon juice, some for lemon oil, and some are all-around. Some are more disease-resistant, some bear more fruit.
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    Over the millennia, many different types of lemons evolved.

    One of the reasons it is difficult to trace lemon’s origin is adaptability to hybridization, as well as the vagueness of descriptions and awareness levels. A “round citron” reference may actually be a lemon, or vice versa.

    Depictions of citrus fruits in Roman mosaics such as found in Carthage in Tunisia, and frescoes preserved in Pompeii, may look like lemons but are not supported by any botanical or literary evidence (source).

    What we do know is that many varieties proliferated in semi-tropical climates around the world. Here’s a pictorial glossary of the different types of lemons.
     
    And the history of lemonade?

  • The earliest written evidence of lemonade comes from medieval Egypt in the writings of the Persian poet and traveler Nasir-i-Khusraw (1003-ca. 1061).
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  • Records from the medieval Jewish community in Cairo (10th-13th centuries) show that bottles of lemon juice, called qatarmizat, were heavily sweetened with sugar. An 1104 reference shows a considerable trade in exporting lemon juice.
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    Over the centuries, lemonade has been enhanced with fruits, herbs, spices and yes, alcohol.

    National Lemonade Day is August 20th, but why wait until then to enjoy these recipes?

    This recipe is adapted from Leanne Vogel of HealthfulPursuit.com, for Strawberry Basil Italian Lemonade.

    Italian lemonade uses mineral water; you can use whatever water you like.

    You may want to soak the basil overnight, or first thing in the morning.

     

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY BASIL LEMOMADE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 24 organic strawberries, hulled
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • Ultrafine sugar*, simple syrup or other sweetener to taste
  • 2 quarts mineral water
  • 48 basil leaves, washed and stems removed and divided
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • Optional garnish:
  • Straws
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    *Ultrafine sugar dissolves more easily because the grains are much smaller. You can turn table sugar into ultrafine by pulsing it in a food processor.
     
    Preparation

    1. SOAK half of the basil in the mineral water for 6-8 hour and refrigerates.

    2. CRUSH the strawberries in a large bowl with a muddler or a potato masher, until they can be sipped through a straw. Add the lemon juice and sweetener, stir and refrigerate. When ready to serve…

    3. Add 2 spoonfuls of strawberry purée to the bottom of 8 glasses. Add 2 fresh basil leaves (not soaked) and a couple of ice cubes. Pour mineral water over the top and serve with straws.
     
    MORE EXCITING LEMOMADE RECIPES

  • Jalapeño Lemonade Recipe
  • Lavender Lemonade Recipe
  • Mint Lemonade Recipe
  • Peach Lemonade Recipe
  • Sparkling Melon Lemonade Recipe
  • Spicy Lemonade Recipe
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    LEMONADE COCKTAIL RECIPES

  • Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail Recipe
  • Lemonade 485 Cocktail Recipe
  • Limoncello Lemonade Recipe
  • Tequila Lemonade Recipe
  • Saké Lemonade Recipe
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    HAVE OTHER IDEAS FOR FANCY LEMONADE?

    Let us know!

     

    Strawberry Basil Lemonade

    Lavender Lemonade

    Jalapeno Lemonade

    [1] Strawberry Basil Lemonade, the recipe at left (photo courtesy HealthfulPursuit.com). [2] Lavender lemonade (recipe, photo © Edith Frincu | Dreamstime). [3] Jalapeño Lemonade (recipe, photo courtesy Melissas.com).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Mocktails

    In the heat* of the summer, not every cocktail fan wants alcohol; and not everyone drinks alcohol, preferring a cocktail.

    So mixologists created the most tempting mocktails we’ve seen: just like a creative cocktails served at hot spots.

    By layering complex flavors, you’ll never know the alcohol is missing. We’ve included two recipes below, created by Richard Woos for SushiSamba New York. You may utter words like “Where am I supposed to get these ingredients?”

    But use them as a guideline. Mixologists have many more ingredients to play with than we do. You can substitute, or be inspired to create something entirely different with coconut water, fruit juices, sweet herbs, etc. Think of the flavors you like and mix away!

    For those who want a bit of kick, add a shot of sochu (shochu), half the proof of vodka.

    These cocktails were created by Richard Woods for SUSHISAMBA NYC, so they have an Asian twist.
     
    RECIPE #1: SUU IZURU COCKRAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce aloe water/juice**
  • 1.5 ounces lychee juice
  • .5 ounce yuzu juice
  • 1 ounce pineapple and tarragon simple syrup†
  • 3-4 organic rose petals (no pesticide!)
  • Crushed ice
  • Garnish: dehydrated pineapple ring, large mint sprig, organic rose bud
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    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients and swizzle through crushed ice. Then swizzle in the rose petals.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

     

    Summer Mocktail

    Summer Mocktail

    [1] Aloe, lychee and yuzu are a glorious combination. [2] Yuzu and elderflower liqueur with a shiso garnish.

     
    RECIPE #2: YUSHI FIZZ

    This drink is a combination of two of our favorite flavors, yuzu and lychee, with a shiso garnish (thus the name, yu + shi). The elderflower liquer tastes very much like lychee liqueur (but better).

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • .75 ounce yuzu juice
  • 1.5 ounces shiso sugar syrup
  • 1 bar spoon†† elderflower cordial (Saint-Germain is heavenly, and also great with Champagne)
  • 2 ounces soda water (club soda)
  • Ice
  • Optional garnishes: shisho leaf (substitute basil) or lychees on a pick
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    Preparation

    1. SHAKE the first three ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Add the soda water and roll the shaker to blend.

    2. DOUBLE strain, garnish and serve.
     
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    *Drinking alcohol makes you feel warmer as your blood alcohol level rises, but it does not actually raise your body temperature.

    **Aloe water is a great base for cocktails and cocktails—or for drinking straight. It’s also available in flavors, from the three major melons to strawberry and pineapple. NOTE: If you don’t like orange juice with pulp, you won’t like aloe water: It has pieces of aloe pulp.

    †Heres’s how to make simple syrup. You can infuse whatever you like in it. You can also purchase simple syrup. Sonoma Syrup Co. makes a multitude of flavors, from from ginger to lavender.

    ††A bar spoon is equivalent to a teaspoon, but has a much longer handle so it can mix ingredients in tall glasses. It’s typically stainless steel and the handle is twisted in a decorative way. Here’s a bar spoon photo.

      

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    JULY 4TH DRINK: Red, White & Blueberry Lemonade & Hard Lemonade

    For cookouts and picnics, our family never had everyday soft drinks. For these special occasions, the beverage menu included lemonade, iced tea and Mom’s favorite fruit punch (recipe: equal parts of grape juice, lemonade and orange juice, all from frozen concentrate).

    For July 4th, we switched to a “patriotic” lemonade: red, white and blue. The ingredients: pink lemonade tinted darker with some food color, white ice cubes and blueberries inside the ice cubes.

    Beyond red food color, there are different ways to tint the lemonade a deep rose:

  • Add some red juice: blood orange, cherry, currant, cranberry, grape, pomegranate or watermelon juice.
  • Hibiscus tea (buy the tea and brew it).
  • Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger, Raspberry Zinger or Watermelon-Lime Zinger tea, all of which are blends that contain hibiscus.
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    The herbal teas are delicious iced, so instead of lemonade, you can make patriotic—and caffeine-free—iced tea!

    For adults, keep bottles of gin, lemon liqueur, tequila or vodka (especially lemon-flavored vodka) next to the pitcher with a shot glass and a mixing spoon, and allow the grown-ups to add what they like.
     
    RECIPE #1: BLUEBERRY ICE CUBES

    First, make the white and blue ice cubes. You may need to start making batches a couple of days in advance, depending on how many ice cube trays you have and how many guests you expect.

    This recipe makes enough cubes for a quart of lemonade, assuming 3 cubes per glass.

    Ingredients For 12 Ice Cubes (One Tray)

  • 36 fresh blueberries (about 1/4 cup)
  • Water
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    Preparation

    1. PLACE 3 berries in each of 12 ice cube compartments.

    2. FILL with water and freeze. Remove the frozen cubes to a freezer storage bag to use the tray for another batch.
     
    RECIPE #2: RED, WHITE & BLUEBERRY LEMONADE

    While you can purchase pink lemonade in a large format, frozen concentrate is less expensive—and lighter to carry! If you want sugar-free lemonade, you can use Crystal Light (we prefer the taste of their regular lemonade to the pink lemonade; or squeeze fresh lemonade and add your sweetener of choice.

    Ingredients For 1 Quart (Four 1-Cup Servings)

  • 1 can pink lemonade concentrate (frozen)
  • Red color of choice (see list above)
  • 1¼ cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • Blueberry ice cubes (recipe below)
  • Optional: gin, limoncello, orange liqueur, tequila, vodka
  • Optional: straws (you can find them in white with red and/or blue stripes)
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    Preparation

    1. ADD water to the lemonade concentrate per package instructions. Then add the coloring agent to get the desired shade. Note that excepting food color, the more juice you add, the less the drink will taste like classic lemonade. But there’s nothing wrong with that! ss measuring cup or other container. Microwave on high until hot, about 1 minute.

    2. STIR until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and enough water to make 1 quart. If the red color isn’t strong enough for you, add a drop of food color or some juice to create your preferred shade. Chill.

    3. FILL tall glasses with the blueberry ice cubes. Add the lemonade and optional spirits.
     
     
    MORE JULY 4TH LEMONADE RECIPES

  • Spicy Hot Lemonade Recipe
  • Homemade Lemonade With Red & Blue Berries
  • Regular Lemonade With A Blueberry & Raspberry Cocktail Pick
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    red-white-blueberry-lemonade-blueberrycouncil-230

    Hibiscus Iced Tea

    Pint Of Fresh Blueberries

    Minute Maid Pink Lemonade Concentrate

    [1] Red, white and blue lemonade (photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org). [2] We added some hibiscus iced tea to make the frozen pink lemonade in the top photo a deeper rose color (photo of hibiscus tea courtesy Republic Of Tea). [3] A pint of blueberries for the ice cubes (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [4] Pink lemonade concentrate (photo courtesy Minute Maid).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Frozen Fruit “Ice Cubes”

    We love to flavor water with fresh fruit, and to add fruit to ice cubes.

    Here’s a twist on conventional ice cubes: Use frozen fruit instead of ice cubes.

    We have long made “party ice cubes” with a strawberry or other fruit (plus herbs, or savory ice cubes like cherry tomatoes and basil) embedded in an ice cube, but with frozen fruit only, there’s no surrounding ice to dilute the drink.

    The only advisory:

  • Plain frozen fruit alone works better for drinks that are already chilled.
  • Fruits embedded in ice cubes will keep frozen longer, and are better for room temperature drinks.
  • However, watermelon, with its higher water content, can be cut into ice cube shape. The flavor doesn’t work with every beverage, but when it does, it’s terrific!
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    THE “RECIPE”

  • Wash and pat dry fresh strawberries or other fruit. If the leaves on strawberries are perky-looking, you can leave them on.
  • Place the fruit in the freezer in a pan, spaced so they don’t freeze together. When the fruit is frozen, you can remove it to a storage bag.
  • The easy way: Purchase bags of frozen fruit and use two or more varieties in each glass—strawberries and sliced peaches, for example.
  • Match the fruits to the flavors and colors of the drinks: cherry ice cubes, citrus (we love blood orange or grapefruit), cucumbers, grapes (use mixed colors), melon (try melon balls), other berries and sliced stone fruits.
  • Don’t stockpile the frozen fruit or fruit ice cubes: Make only what you’ll use within a week.
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    MORE ICE CUBE IDEAS

  • Coconut Water Ice Cubes
  • Flower Ice Cubes
  • July 4th Ice Cubes
  • Strawberry-Thyme Ice Cubes
  • Tea, Coffee Or Lemonade Ice Cubes
  • Wine Ice Cubes
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    frozen-strawberry-calpizzakitchen-230sq

    Fruit Ice Cubes

    Top: Freeze fruit to substitute for ice cubes (photo courtesy California Pizza Kitchen). Bottom: The more conventional way: Add fruit or herbs to the water before freezing the ice (photo courtesy Zespri| Facebook).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavor Your Water With Fresh Fruits (Spa Water)

    You can buy a bottle of water flavored with extracts, or you can extract the flavor of fresh fruit by yourself.

    Whether we’re home alone or expecting guests, we usually flavor a pitcher of water with fresh fruits (or add your own mint or lemon extract into tap water). The subtle infusion from the fresh fruit, in our humble opinion, is more delicious than any bottled water flavored with fruit extracts.

    Plus, there’s lots of eye appeal.

    FOOD 101

    There are natural extracts, artificial extracts and essential oils.

    • A natural extract (a.k.a. natural flavor) is derived from a fruit or vegetable, their juices, and other sources most home cooks don’t address (barks, herbs, flowers, roots, etc.). The plant may be cold pressed, macerated or soaked in alcohol
    • An artificial flavor (a.k.a. artificial extract or favoring, as in imitation maple extract and imitation vanilla extract), does not come from a plant or animal source, and instead is generated in a lab by combining different food-safe components into a variation of the natural flavor. They are less expensive than natural extracts, and also used by people who avoid any type of alcohol (e.g., in halal cuisine).
    • An essential oil is intensely flavored compared to a natural extract, and the production is more complex: it is obtained through distillation, to yield what is known as the plant essence—a very small amount of volatile liquid (the essential oil), which is why they are typically more expensive than regular liquid extracts. But you need to use less of them.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE FLAVORED WATER INFUSED WITH FRUIT

    At a minimum, use two items from the fruits and herbs lists, i.e., two fruits or one fruit and one herb. You can combine as many as you like: The basic recipe in our home includes cucumber, citrus, strawberries and an herb.

    Ingredients Per Pitcher (64 Ounces)

    • 50 ounces of water, tap or bottled spring water
    • 1 cup seasonal fruits (see list below)
    • Handful of herb sprigs, to taste (basil, lavender, lemon verbena, mint, rose geranium, rosemary, thyme—use only one of these)
    • Optional: 1 large cucumber, unpeeled, sliced
    • Optional spices: cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, sliced ginger root, vanilla beans

    Preparation

    1. SLICE the fruits into wheels, retaining the peels (berries don’t need to be sliced).

    2. PLACE all ingredients in a 64-ounce jug or pitcher. Chill for at least one hour or overnight (much longer and the fruit will begin to break down).

    3. SERVE. If guests are pouring their own, i.e. when grilling outdoors,

    Vegetable Water Pitcher

    Orange Mint Water

    Apple Juice & Fresh Fruit

    Top: Cucumber, peaches and basil leaves, served at Olio | NYC. Center: Oranges and mint, at Bonnie Plants. Bottom: As a treat for kids, you can add use carbonated water and apple juice with fresh fruit (photo Pisco Porton).

    In the winter, cucumber, mint and citrus slices (grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange/clementine (seed free?)/tangerine slices are good.You can also vary the herbs. Fresh herbs, grown in greenhouses, are available year-round.

    SEASONAL FRUITS

    • Spring and Summer Fruits: berries, cucumber, melon, pineapple, stone fruits (especially peaches).
    • Winter Fruits: apples, berries*, cherimoya, any citrus (red grapefruits and blood oranges are our favorites, but lemons, limes, mandarins† and oranges† are always welcome), cucumber, dried berries (cherries, cranberries) grapes, kiwifruit, lychee (another favorite of ours), mango, papaya, persimmon, pomegranate arils.

    Avoid fruits that will cloud the water, e.g. bananas and figs.

    WHAT IF YOU HAVE NO FRESH FRUITS AT HAND?

    While there’s no visual impact, you can use extracts to flavor water. Experiment with a dropper and juice glass of water to see what you like.

    • Use 1/2 teaspoon extract in a quart of water; taste and adjust as desired.
    • You can combine two flavors, e.g. banana and strawberry, lemon and anise, chocolate and cherry. You can be as basic (e.g., lime extract) or as creative (e.g., anise and hazelnut, brandy or rum and cherry, lavender) as you like.

    MORE INFUSED WATER IDEAS

     

     

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    *Raspberries and strawberries are available year-round.

    The difference between mandarins and oranges: http://blog.thenibble.com/2015/12/22/tip-of-the-day-seasonal-fruit/.

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