It's almost the fourth of July. High summer. I love summer living, it's full of my favorite things: boats, water sports, lightning bugs, endless light, blazing skies, big puffy clouds, fireworks, berries, watermelon, lemonade. The kids can't wait to thrash sparklers around in the dark, making shapes and letters. Connor has a growing laundry list of safety concerns. Summer is dangerous, play responsibly everyone.
To keep cool, I'm going to share the world's best lemonade recipe. I am not overselling it. It is the best. In the whole world. When I was 10, I set up a card table outside some store front my family up North owns and made a real attempt to sell the stuff. The business venture was a bust: start up and overhead costs were larger than I originally estimated, the rabid customer base I was anticipating never materialized, I ended up in the red and owed my Mom money. I didn't even get to make the cutesy overhead sunshine yellow banner that said "lemonade" in adorable kid scrawl. I couldn't afford it. My career as an entrepreneur was glorious. And short.
This lemonade is my childhood in a glass.
This recipe comes from my Gramma Hazel, my Dad's mother. She grew up the youngest of 10 children on a farm in Hegins Valley, Pennsylvania. (Yes, the one with the pigeon shoot. Those are my people. We shoot from the hip.) She always made it for family reunions or 4th of July at the lake. She mixed it up in this fabulous stainless steel ribbed 5 gallon igloo cooler. That cooler is a childhood landmark for the Minnich cousins. The lemonade is pulpy, as you'll see below. The best part, aside from the lemonade itself, was enjoying the spectacle as everyone tried to coax just another little stream of lemonade out of the pour spout that was completely clogged with pulp. An Aunt or taller cousin wrangled and tipped the big cooler this way and that way. They stood on tip toe, craning their necks over the cooler's edge. They angled the large spoon attached to the side handle with a thin leather strap, attempting to stir the dregs just so some more liquid would squirt out into the paper dixie cup in my hand. Then a little more. Just a touch more. There, that's enough. I guzzled it and asked for a refill immediately. Eventually, someone would bite the bullet and go make more or go buy some Guers iced tea (think sweet tea, Southern friends, but even sweeter.)
No, that wasn't the best part. The best part was eating the completely saturated citrus remains at the bottom of the barrel once the lemonade (or the grown-up's patience) was all spent. Delicious.
I love summer.
Without further ado, Gramma Hazel's lemonade. In the cookbook my Mom printed and laminated for me before I got married, she has this parenthetical note "Be prepared to share this recipe!"
Gramma Hazel's Lemonade
To make 1 gallon:
1 large lemon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dry lemonade
1/2 cup can frozen concentrated lemonade or 1 small can
Water and ice
In a one gallon container, mix dry ingredients and concentrated lemonade with enough water to dissolve. Slice oranges and lemon and place in mixture. Add water and ice to fill pitcher. Best if it stands overnight but tasty even if served in an hour.
To make 5 gallons:
Use a five gallon container, 12-15 oranges, 5 lemons, 5 cups of sugar, 1 eight quart container of dry lemonade and 2 cans of frozen lemonade concentrate.
The Petersons have modified this recipe just a bit to mitigate the pulp problem: we now juice the oranges and lemons and combine the fresh squeezed juice in the lemonade mixture rather than endure the pulpy mess. Ain't nobody got time for pulp! (Unless it's for company and for show, we love a good garnish.)
I'll be sipping some lemonade under the fireworks this weekend.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone!