Nothing says summer quite like fresh-squeezed lemonade and limeade. This master recipe is perfect just as it is, or feel free to mix in fresh fruit, flavored syrups, or fresh herbs like basil or mint.
1 ¾ cups cane sugar (see notes)
2 cups cold, filtered water
1 ½ cups lemon juice for lemonade or lime juice for limeade (or a mix of both if you’re wild)
8 additional cups water (for sparkling lemonade, substitute 2 liters of sparkling water/club soda)
To make the simple syrup, whisk together sugar and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 5 minutes and then remove from heat.
While the simple syrup mixture is cooling, juice the lemons or limes. Add the simple syrup mixture to the fruit juice. This step can be done up to 2 days in advance–just store the lemonade/limeade mix in the refrigerator.
When ready to serve, add the lemonade/limeade mix to up to 8 cups of cold, filtered water (or chilled club soda; adjust water according to taste) and serve over ice.
I don’t always buy name-brand ingredients, but when it comes to sugar, I always do. Many generic or store-brand sugars smell sour or kind of like mildew–that’s because that sugar likely comes from sugar beets instead of sugar cane, simply because it’s cheaper to manufacture sugar from sugar beets. In simple recipes like this homemade lemonade or limeade, that mildew-y smell/taste isn’t masked by other ingredients, so I recommend using a name-brand sugar like Domino, Imperial, or C&H.
to add fresh fruit syrups
Fill a glass half full with ice, add 2-3 tablespoons syrup and any other mix-ins like mint or basil sprigs, jalapeño slices, and/or lemon or lime wedges or slices, then add in lemonade and stir with a straw or long-handled spoon.