I have an ambition – it is a very small ambition, but an ambition nonetheless. I have always wanted to make lemonade. Now this is not a task of Herculean proportions but for some reason, I’ve never done it. And this year I have sworn to myself that I’m going to actually start doing things rather than just parking them in my head and expecting them to magically appear before me. Why does lemonade matter? Well I suppose it doesn’t but on those American movies, when the perfect housewife and mother brings out a pitcher of homemade lemonade to the family, a part of me secretly believes that harnessing the ability to make this beverage will propel me into a similar image of perfection. Armed with a fervent belief in the achievement of domestic goddess status, I diligently researched recipes and bought lemons. It turns out that there is not a lot of research necessary as it is basically lemons, sugar and water but with unwavering faith, I persisted.
4 unwaxed lemons, washed
100g caster sugar
Using a vegetable peeler, thinly peel the zest from the lemons.
Squeeze the juice from the lemons.
Place the zest, lemon juice and sugar in a large heatproof jug.
Pour in 600ml boiling water and stir until the sugar has totally dissolved.
Cover, and leave to cool completely.
Now, strain the lemon mixture into a serving jug, and discard the zest.
Dilute with 400ml chilled water and sweeten with extra sugar to taste.
Serve decorated with lemon slices, mint leaves and crushed ice.
I used a recipe from the Waitrose website because it felt a bit like cheating to just put lemon juice and sugar in a jug and top it up with water. I was looking to impress after all. Anyway, in later experimentation, it turns out that lemon juice mixed with sugar and topped up with water tastes much the same. It just lacks a certain amount of ‘effort-reward’ satisfaction.
Using a vegetable peeler to thinly peel the zest from the lemons results in one big chunk of lemon zest and a little bit of in-kitchen frustration. My vegetable peeler might well be blunt though. Either way, i used a grater.
In my new role as domestic goddess and my recent resolution to just try and make things in day to day life a bit prettier (rather than saving anything i own that is remotely attractive for ‘best’), I chose to let my lemonade cool on the kitchen work surface under a hand decorated food cover (i just spent five minutes with Google finding out what they are called and was bitterly disappointed it sounds so prosaic. Mine is very pretty and really should be called something more fancy, ‘hand crafted artisan food net’ perhaps). It took a very long time and I was quite thirsty. It would have been quicker to stick the jug in the fridge, but a resolution must be adhered to, at least that early on after making it.
It is nicer if you top up the cold water bit with sparkling water, although maybe that is because I am used to lemonade being fizzy. I guess you would have to ask a pitcher wielding American mom which is more authentic.
In anticipation of lemony gorgeousness and fast guzzling followed by lots of praise for my endeavours, I forewent the addition of mint leaves and lemon slices. It just seemed like a waste. Plus if my son sees anything remotely resembling a green vegetable, he will refuse on principle.
Conclusion: One jug of lemonade has not transformed me into a domestic goddess. Unsurprisingly. However it did taste very good. Life, as they say, is a journey and i guess i must keep on trucking. However during the journey, I will now be far more refreshed than in previous months and years. Success.