Some of you may know that my father-in-law owns a bagel deli in Seattle. With that information, some of you who know Sara from her formative years may be reading this and are just figuring out who I am (not a “who I am” in an “Oh, I’m soooo famous” sense but “who I am” like, “Ohhhh, Kate’s married to Seth’s brother.”) Anyway.
One of my favorite things about The Bagel Deli is the fresh-squeezed lemonade. I worked there the summer after my husband and I got married and I can attest to its fresh-sqeezedness because I made those lemonades myself! I got so addicted (and spoiled) to fresh-squeezed lemonade that summer that I became something of a lemonade snob. If it’s not straight from the lemon, I don’t want it.
This isn’t the Bagel Deli’s recipe because, alas, I don’t have a soda fountain that keeps sugar water mixed at all times, but when I made this recipe, it tasted remarkably close (unless I add mint). One thing I like about making my own lemonade is that I can adjust the sweetness. Just like any fruit, lemons can vary in their tartness, so I like that I can tweak the sweetness and concentration according to my mood.
One other thing–the mint isn’t necessary, and it can be expensive if you don’t have your own herb garden (and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t; unlike Sara, who apparently is bad at nothing, I kill plants just by thinking about them.) It’s good, and it adds a unique flavor, but sometimes, all you want is a simple, good old-fashioned lemonade and if that’s what you’re after, don’t feel guilty for leaving the mint out. People will probably be so impressed that you’re squeezing your own lemonade that they won’t think any less of you for a minty absence.
Recipe by Our Best Bites
2 c. sugar
1 c. fresh lemon juice (about 5-6 large lemons)
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. loosely packed fresh mint leaves (optional)
8 1/2-10 1/2 c. water, divided
Combine 2 1/2 c. water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved and then simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool about 20 minutes. Add lemon and lime juices to the sugar syrup. If desired, place mint leaves in a lidded pitcher or large, lidded storage bowl. Pour lemon-lime mixture into container. If not using mint, refrigerate. If using mint, allow to stand 1 hour and then strain mixture and store until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, mix lemonade base with 6-8 c. cold water. Start with 6 c. and then adjust according to your taste. 6 c. will be very sweet, 8 c. will border on watery. But I promise, however you like it, it will be delicious!