June 19, 2014 at 1:00 am

Forget the powders, there's nothing like real lemonade

Rum is optional in Crazy Coconut Lemonade. (Food Network)

Summer officially begins Saturday, and already the days have been sun-kissed and warm. Kids are out of school at last, and soon they’ll be setting up that lemonade stand in a neighborhood near you to entice bikers, walkers and runners.

In fact, nothing quite says summer like a pitcher of lemonade. It quenches the thirst and cools the body. And even though there are powders and concentrates filling the supermarkets, taking the time to make some old-fashioned lemonade is a rewarding experience, followed by a relaxing experience. A few minutes in the kitchen means you’ve earned the right to sit on the deck or porch and put your feet up.

I like to change things up every time I make a pitcher of lemonade by adding something different to the mix. Indeed, adding sprigs of mint or basil or lemon verbena leaves, sliced fresh ginger and fresh fruit such as watermelon, strawberries or nectarines make luscious libations.

You can create a wide selection of cooling cocktails using lemonade and your favorite rum, vodka or gin. The Arnold Palmer (iced tea and lemonade) and the Summer Shandy (lemonade and beer) are widely known lemonade drinks, but even a splash of Campari in a glass of lemonade topped with some sparkling water makes a unique sipper. And don’t be timid when it comes to comingling flavors, you may just surprise yourself.

If your little one wants to really hit it big at the next lemonade stand, nix the powdered stuff and try one of our suggestions (sans alcohol, of course). Or, prepare a batch of lemonade syrup so you can enjoy a refreshing glass whenever the mood strikes. Summer is short, so let’s enjoy every sip of it.

Basic Old-Fashioned Lemonade

Use this as the base for your libations. Recipe from “Lemon Zest” by Lori Longbotham

3 ½ cups water
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 lemon, thinly sliced, or zest of 1 lemon
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)

Bring water, sugar and salt to a boil in large saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove saucepan from heat, add sliced lemon and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Pour the sugar-lemon syrup into a pitcher, straining if desired; stir in lemon juice, chill and serve over ice. Makes 5 cups.

Variations

Any berry: Reduce water to 3 cups. Puree ripe berries with ½ cup water in blender. Add the berry puree to the syrup and strain into the pitcher. Stir in the lemon juice; serve over ice with fresh berries.

Mint: Steep 6 large sprigs fresh mint in the sugar-lemon syrup; discard mint before serving.

Ginger: Steep 8 slices fresh ginger in the sugar-lemon syrup; discard ginger before serving.

Lavender: Steep either ¼ cup fresh (unsprayed) lavender flowers or 1 tablespoon dried flowers in the sugar-lemon syrup; strain before using.

Cardamom: Steep 6 crushed cardamom pods in the sugar-lemon syrup with the sliced lemons; no need to discard before serving.

Saffron: Steep a pinch of crumbled saffron threads in the sugar-lemon syrup; no need to discard before serving.

Per serving: 165 calories; 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 0 percent calories from fat); 45 g carbohydrates; 39 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 29 mg sodium; 0.4 g protein; 1 g fiber.

Coriander-Cumin-Fennel Lemonade

Recipe from “Lemon Zest” by Lori Longbotham

1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 lemon, thinly sliced, or zest of 1 lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)

Bring 3½ cups water, the sugar, coriander, cumin, fennel, salt and peppercorns to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the sliced lemon, and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Pour the syrup through a strainer into a pitcher. Stir in the lemon juice. Chill; serve over ice. Makes about 5 cups.

Per serving: 166 calories; 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 0 percent calories from fat); 45 g carbohydrates; 39 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 118 mg sodium; 0.5 g protein; 1 g fiber.

Tarragon-Honeydew Lemonade

This is tremendously cooling, but don’t make it way ahead; it doesn’t keep well. Recipe from “Lemon Zest” by Lori Longbotham

1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 small sprigs fresh tarragon, plus additional sprigs for garnish
1 lemon, thinly sliced, or zest of 1 lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler
2 cups chopped honeydew melon
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)

Bring 3½ cups water, the sugar and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat; add the tarragon and the sliced lemon, and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree the honeydew in a blender or a food processor.

Pour the syrup and the honeydew puree through a stainer into a pitcher. Stir in the lemon juice. Chill; serve over ice. Makes about 5 cups.

Per serving: 190 calories; 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 0 percent calories from fat); 51 g carbohydrates; 45 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 36 mg sodium; 1 g protein; 2 g fiber.

Lemon Syrup

Recipe from “Lemon Zest” by Lori Longbotham

To make a glass of lemonade, use 2 to 3 tablespoons of this syrup per glass of seltzer or cold water. For a pitcher of lemonade, use ¾ to 1 cup syrup and 4 to 5 cups water. You might also add a spoonful of this to iced tea.

2½ cups sugar
Finely grated zest of 4 lemons
Pinch of salt
3 cups fresh lemon juice (about 12 large lemons)

Bring 1 cup water, the sugar, zest, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Pour the syrup through a strainer into a large glass measure or a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice. Pour the syrup into a large jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid. The syrup can be stored, refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks.

Serve over ice. Makes about 5 cups or 32 servings.

Per serving (per 2½tablespoons): 64 calories; 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 0 percent calories from fat); 17 g carbohydrates; 15 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 5 mg sodium; 0 g protein; 0 g fiber.

Rosemary Lemonade Cocktail

Recipe from cockailsabout.com

1 ½ ounces tequila
4 ounces basic lemonade (see recipe)
3 to 4 organic rosemary-infused ice cubes (instructions below)
Rosemary sprig and lemon wheel for garnish

Place rosemary ice in highball glass. Add tequila and top with lemonade. Stir.

Garnish with rosemary sprig and lemon wheel. Makes 1 cocktail.

Rosemary Infused Ice Cubes

3 cups water
6 organic rosemary sprigs

Pinch 12 to 15 tips from rosemary sprigs. Set aside.

Bring water to simmer. Add rosemary sprigs to heated water. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain into heatproof container. Allow to cool.

After rosemary water has cooled, pour rosemary water into ice tray. Add rosemary tips to individual ice cubicles. Place in freezer.

Per serving: 180 calories; 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 0 percent calories from fat); 22 g carbohydrates; 20 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 15 mg sodium; 0 g protein; 0.5 g fiber.

Middle Eastern Lemonade

Recipe from Bobby Flay and Food Network

¾cup superfine sugar
¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh lemon juice (6 to 8 lemons)
2 teaspoons orange flower water (see note)
½ orange, thinly sliced
Lemon vodka, for serving, optional


Note:
Orange flower water is becoming more available, but the best place to find it is Middle Eastern markets.

Muddle the sugar and mint in the bottom of a pitcher. Stir in the lemon juice, 4 cups cold water and the orange flower water until the sugar is dissolved. Add the orange slices, cover and refrigerate until very cold, about 2 hours. Serve over ice. Makes 5 servings.

For a cocktail version, add a shot of lemon vodka to each glass.

Per serving (without vodka): 130 calories; 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 0 percent calories from fat); 35 g carbohydrates; 30 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 1 mg sodium; 0.4 g protein; 1 g fiber.

Crazy Coconut Lemonade

Recipe from Ingrid Hoffmann, Food Network

6 to 8 mint leaves, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste
2 lemon slices
2 lime slices
Ice
1 cup coconut water or regular water
3 tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
Rum, to taste, optional

Muddle the mint leaves, sugar, lemon slices and lime slices with a muddler or pestle in the bottom of a large glass. In a blender, mix a little ice, water, coconut milk, lemon juice, lime juice and rum (if using). Give drink a quick blend. Pour into glass with muddled mint mixture. Garnish with mint sprigs and lime slices. Serves 1.

Per serving (without rum): 274 calories; 11 g fat (10 g saturated fat; 36 percent calories from fat); 49 g carbohydrates; 25 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 119 mg sodium; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber.

klawson@detroitnews.com

Lemonade is a perfect drink for summer. Adding strawberries is a popular ... (Matthew Mead / AP)