European-style lemonade for hot summer days!

This summer has been a scorcher, and on a trip we took in June to Eastern Europe, the heat followed us. We were out walking and sightseeing all day, so whenever we had the chance, we’d stop for lemonade made from scratch–not the yucky powdered stuff.

Every city we visited had homemade lemonade on the menu, and usually numerous variations with added cucumber, ginger, lavender, blackberry, or orange. Most had a bit of fizz, and none were very sweet. However, they were all refreshing and abounding in nature’s flavors–nothing artificial added.

When we got back to the US, the heat wave greeted us here, so I immediately began experimenting to recreate some of the lovely lemonades we enjoyed overseas. I’m still playing around with it, so I’m not ready to write up an official recipe yet, but I thought I’d just share approximately what I’ve been trying.

I bought a bag of organic lemons from Whole Foods. It contained really large lemons, and I used five of them. I cut them in half then sliced them to yield 8 cups. I would have used a few more if I’d had them, but I adjusted.

I sprinkled 1/2 cup granulated sugar over them.

I stirred to coat, then left it to stand about an hour (maybe longer) while I did other things around the house, stirring occasionally when I walked by. Once I was ready to get back to the lemons, the sugar had been completely dissolved by the lemon juice, and there was no need to turn on the stove to make a simple syrup.

I used my food masher to squeeze out more of the juices, then I added (for fun) some lemon thyme from my garden and smashed a little more.

I drained the juices and poured them into a large jar. I ended up with about 1 cup of juice, then I added some of the mashed lemon slices to the jar. I saved the remaining slices to use later.

I added around 3 to 4 cups water (to taste).

To serve, I filled a glass about half full with ice, then I added a few lemon slices from those I had reserved and poured in some lemonade, leaving about 1-1/2 inches on top. Finally, I stirred in some sparkling mineral water to get that little bit of fizz that made the European lemonades so refreshing.

This lemonade is not too strong and not too sweet. You can always add more sugar and adjust the amount of added water to get the taste your prefer. I have a few more ideas up my sleeve for my next attempts, and I look forward to working on variations as well. Once I have exact amounts, I’ll post an actual recipe, but at least you have the basic outline for now, if you want to experiment on your own.

(To your health, in Czech)