Three Lemonades

Rhubarb Lemonade

Pucker up! Rhubarb and lemons pack a double tang in this pitcher of pinkness.

I’ve had a nagging guilt pang for weeks, because I found this great recipe for lemonade that I made with rhubarb from my garden but didn’t get to posting it before the end of rhubarb season. Just like I forgot to post (or even enjoy) a Firefly cocktail before the little lightening buggers disappeared.

Anyway, I was in the store yesterday and what did I see? Yep! Big stalks of fresh rhubarb. I don’t know where the rhubarb stands in your part of the country, but somebody somewhere is still harvesting it, so that’s reason enough to run with it.

And while we’re at it, let’s just make this a big lemonadey post. The great thing about lemonade—other than it being delish and refreshing—is that you can flavor it with any summer fruit or even herb to make a familiar drink into something transcendent. My sister makes a mean lavender lemonade that is wayyyy cheaper than a trip to Provence.

A word here on lemons. If there is any way you can get Meyer lemons—the thin-skinned beauties that are sweet enough to eat on their own—get them! They make all the difference.

Rhubarb Lemonade

Note: This is very, very tart. Kids (and many adults) will probably prefer it with lemon-lime soda vs. sparkling water. Pucker up buttercup!

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 ½ cups water
5 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen (20 ounces)
3/4 cups sugar
2  3-inch strips lemon zest
3 sprigs fresh mint
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups lemon-lime soda or sparkling water

Method

  1. In a saucepan, stir together the water, the rhubarb pieces, the sugar, the lemon zest and the mint. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Let the rhubarb mixture cool, the strain it through a wire-mesh strainer set over a large pitcher. Press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids
  3. Stir in the lemon juice and soda. Serve over ice, garnished with a sprig of mint

These next two recipes came from Joy the Baker who clearly has a thing about lemonade, which is a good thing now that she’s moved to New Orleans.

Beet Lemonade

adapted slightly from Saveur; makes about 8 cups

Edie’s note: With the unique undertone of beets, this is decidedly adult tasting. As in, the kids won’t wrestle you for the last drop AND I’m pretty sure a splash of vodka or gin would make it a swanky cocktail. At any rate it is very pretty and refreshing. You might want to put away the white dress or t shirt for this one, just in case of an errant splash. It happens.

Ingredients

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (about 1 small) finely grated raw beet*
6 cups filtered water, divided

*You can use the fine grating side of a box grater, or a food processor with the shredder attachment. I found the box grater to be much easier.

Method

In a blender or a food processor (fitted with the blade attachment), blend together lemon juice, sugar, shredded beet, and 1 cup of water.  Blend for 1 minute until the mixture is bright pink and well combined.  The beets will never be fully smooth,  that’s ok!

Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer and into a medium bowl.  Use the back of a spoon to press any remaining juice out of the beets and into the lemonade.  Transfer strained mixture to a pitcher and discard the beets.  Add remaining 5 cups of water to the pitcher and stir.  Taste and add more lemon or sugar as necessary.  Store in the refrigerator and serve chilled.  

Fresh Blueberry and Mint Lemonade

makes about 2 quarts; adapted from The Lemonade Cookbook

Ingredients

2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen will also work)
1 cup (or one big handful) mint leaves (a few stems are fine too), coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar (you can add more sugar if you have a sweet tooth)
4 to 5 cups filtered water

Method

In a blender add blueberries, mint, lemon juice, and granulated sugar.  Blend until smooth and deep purple.  The mixture will look a bit like a smoothie.

Pour mixture into a fine mesh strainer placed over a medium bowl.  Use a spatula to press the liquid through the strainer leaving the blueberry pulp and fresh mint in the strainer.  Discard the pulp.  Pour the blueberry, mint, lemon juice into a pitcher and add water.  Taste and add more water or sugar according to your taste.

Serve chilled.  

Bring It

Bringing a pitcher or pitchers of different lemonades to a summer party or gathering will make you an instant hero. If you want extra credit bring adult (high octane) pour-ins, fruit garnishes or ice cubes made with frozen fruit or juice.

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