Homemade Lemonade Beats The Heat

It's the middle of summer and it's hot, but luckily there's something to refresh you and quench your thirst: lemonade. And what's better than just lemonade? Homemade lemonade! Above 90 and humid (our predicted weather for the next two days) is no match for this summer staple.

To start, you'll need a whole lot of lemons. The first time I made this, I think I only had 10 or 12 small lemons, and that was not nearly enough to do the job. This time I bought 7 large lemons and a bag of small lemons. The large lemons are more expensive, but they provide more juice so it's a tossup over which is better to get. I recommend some large and some small for cost and time efficiency. (And don't worry about buying too many lemons because I'll be posting some more recipes soon that use lemons!)

Speaking of time efficiency, some tools were created to make our lives easier. After my first time making lemonade a few weeks ago, I refused to make it again until I had a tool to help me squeeze the lemons. Just thinking about squeezing lemons by hand makes my hands ache.

As is typical for me, I already knew exactly what tool I wanted: this Chef'n Citrus Juicer. OXO had a decent one too, but the bright yellow of the Chef'n one is what drew me to it in the first place and won me over in the end.

If you're making lemonade or some other beverage or treat that requires squeezing a lot of lemons or limes and you don't want to shell out the big bucks for a fancy-schmancy electric juicer, this little tool works just fine. I found it at Williams-Sonoma (any excuse to go in there, right?) for just $19.95, and that's totally worth it for all the soreness and stinging it saved my hands from. (Does Williams-Sonoma have an affiliates program? I could recommend a million products there!)

To use the juicer, simply slice all of your lemons in half.

Place a lemon half in the juicer, cut side down. This will seem counterintuitive based on the shape of the juicer, but that's the way to do it.

And just squeeze the handles together over a large measuring cup. You don't even have to squeeze very hard because the tool is designed to help you get the maximum amount of juice without overly exerting yourself. Repeat until you've juiced all of your lemons. I set a strainer inside the measuring cup just to catch any small seeds or pulp clumps that sneaked through the juicer.

Don't the juiced lemon remains look so funny?
You'll want to end up with 2 cups of lemon juice for this recipe. Set that aside and then in another microwave-safe measuring cup or small bowl, microwave 1 cup of water until boiling (2 to 3 minutes depending on your microwave). Dissolve 2 cups of sugar in the water.

In a gallon (or 16-cup) pitcher, combine the lemon juice and sugar/water mixture. None of my pitchers are quite big enough to hold a gallon, so I used the largest Pampered Chef bowl I have that has measurement guides on the inside. You basically need anything that holds 16 cups of liquid. Add cold water to the liquids in your pitcher, bowl, or other container until you have 16 cups of liquid.

Fill your favorite lemonade glasses with ice, and pour in some of your fresh, homemade lemonade. Top with lemon slices, sip, and feel instantly refreshed!

(I got these summery glasses at Crate & Barrel -- another of my favorite stores with a million products I can recommend!)

Store the remaining lemonade in pitchers in the fridge. Pour over ice, sip, and chill out any time the hot, humid weather starts to bring you down.

This lemonade recipe is adapted from The Food Network.

Have you made homemade lemonade? Have you tried different flavors? I'm thinking about doing a blackberry or raspberry lemonade soon!