First published 11/13/1999; last edited 12/27/2004
- 8 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
- zest of 8 lemons (zested, NOT grated)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups lemon juice
- 1 tray of ice cubes
- plenty of (filtered) water
- optional: substitute up to 1 1/4 cups lime juice for 1 1/4 cups lemon juice
If you don't have a zester, cut the yellow part of the rind off of the lemons (not the white pith) and slice it into chunks or strips. The point is it should be large enough to not go through your strainer.
Put the 8c sugar, 4c water, salt, and zest of 8 lemons on to boil in a 5 quart pan. Don't forget the salt like I always do--the lemonade really won't taste right without it! Stir well until the sugar starts to dissolve. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then boil for five minutes. Strain the zest out. Most pots are hard to pour from accurately with this much liquid in them, so you might ladle the syrup into the strainer.
The lemonade makes five batches. Each batch consists of 1 cup lemon juice, a scant 1 3/4 cup lemon syrup, and enough water (and in the case of the first batch, when the syrup is hot, ice cubes) to make two quarts total. After you make the first batch you can store the syrup together with the lemon juice in one or more batches (always make sure the proportions are 1 cup lemon juice to a scant 1 3/4 cup lemon syrup).
You may substitute up to 1/4 cup of lime juice for lemon juice in any given batch.
Valuable hint: don't leave the juice out when you refrigerate the syrup. Syrup likes to crystallize, and the acid in the juice will help to keep it from doing this. The syrup-juice mix may get a little cloudy in the fridge, but otherwise should keep fine. I don't think I've ever tried keeping it longer than two weeks, though, as it always gets used up before then.
When you're ready to make another batch, just pour a scant 2 3/4 cups syrup mix into your 2 quart container, add water to the top, shake, and serve. Keep in mind that some people prefer lemonade strong, and others prefer it weak, so you may want a little more or less water in yours. If you want it a little weaker, just pour off a little lemonade, add some water to it in your cup, and add water to the newly-created space in the beverage container.