Thursday, August 16, 2012

When Life Hands You Lemons, You Make Lemonade!

What can be more refreshing, tasty, and perfect for this hot, humid weather most of us are experiencing? Give up? It is Lemonade! Yes, what better way to cool off with a big glass of Lemonade over ice? National Lemonade Day is August 20th, so I am honoring this lemony old favorite that everyone loves.

The lemon is a small yellow fruit that is native to Asia. The origin of the lemon is somewhat a mystery, but it is a hybrid between a sour orange and citron. Lemons were found in Europe near Southern Italy no later than the 1st century AD, during ancient Rome. They were later recorded in Persia, Iraq and Egypt around 700 AD. The lemon was introduced to the Americas in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, who brought us the lemon seeds. Today India produces the most lemons and then Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, China, USA, Turkey, Iran and Italy.

There are many health benefits to lemons, one is that it has high levels of vitamin C. The average lemon contains approximately 3 tablespoons (50 ml) of juice. The vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant against harmful environmental toxins, and protects the immune system which reduces the risk of hypertension. Historically lemons were used to fight scurvy on Navy ships.

There are many other uses for lemons besides lemonade. One way they can be used is for aromatherapy, which seems to enhance your mood. The low pH of its juice makes it antibacterial. The juice of the lemon may be used for cleaning and a deodorizer as well. Lemon oil is used for a polish, a wood cleaner, and an insecticide treatment. Many children start lemonade stands in their neighborhoods to make some spending money. Who knew that the lemon was so versatile?

The lemon is mostly used for its juice, pulp, peel, and zest, which are used in preparing many recipes. Lemon juice is also used to make lemonade, soft drinks, and cocktails. The lemon leaf accompanies foods as a garnish, plus many teas are made with lemon leaves for flavor. Now that you know about lemons, let’s make some Lemonade!

Lemonade is a lemon flavored drink made from lemons, water and sugar. It comes in other forms as well as fresh, from frozen juice, dry powder, concentrate, slush (lemon ice) and carbonated. The Femminello St. Theresa, or Sorrento lemon is native to Italy and the zest is traditionally used in the making of Limincello an alcohol based drink. Lemonade is made in many flavors such as pink, strawberry, watermelon, and its traditional lemon flavor. Pink lemonade is very popular and it is made by adding fresh raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, or grenadine to the lemonade which typically makes the color pink. All of these are cool and refreshing drinks and make great bases for cocktails too. The basic lemonade recipe has been popular in the Southern United States for years. Sweet tea and lemonade are trademarks for great southern hospitality.

This week I have two recipes to share, one is a Traditional Lemonade Recipe (non-alcoholic) and the other is called a Blueberry Sangria Lemonade courtesy of Sandra Lee from the Food network. These two drinks should quench your thirst on a hot August day or for any day of the year. You get the sweetness from the sugar and berries, which enhance the tartness of the lemons all wrapped up in one cool, fresh, flavorful drink.

Traditional Lemonade Recipe

6 medium lemons, yield 1 cup of juice
3 1/2 cups of water
3/4 cup of sugar (can be adjusted by taste)
Lots of Ice

Juice the lemons on a citrus reamer. If you roll the lemons on a counter before you squeeze, you will get more juice from each lemon. You can add some pulp if you prefer, but discard the seeds. Dissolve the sugar in the water. Combine the juice and sugar water in a pitcher. Stir well and serve over ice cubes.

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 (12 oz) can of frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1 bottle of (750ml) Chardonnay
3 cups lemon lime soda (recommended: Sprite)
1/2 cup of Cognac

In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients and stir. Refrigerate for 1 hour to blend all the flavors. Serve chilled in glasses filled with ice. Serves: 4 people

Till Next Time…………………….. 

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