LEMONADE The classic summer quencher

ST. LOUIS -- Endless sunshine. Thermometer above 90. Humidity. Dry mouth. Must ... quench ... thirst.
Is anything better than lemonade for the task, here at the height of the heat of summer? The simple, basic elixir of lemon juice, water and sugar -- served on ice -- can seem to drop your internal temperature to that of a mild spring morning.
That's the starting point for our list of recipes for summer lemonades: a fundamental version we're calling "6-6-1" to help you remember the proportion of juice to water to sugar, even if you don't have a printed recipe in front of you.
As we worked our way through various recipes, we began to recognize several distinctive approaches. Some simply juiced the lemons, either squeezing by hand or using a manual or mechanical reaming juicer; others called for slicing the lemons, still with their peels on, then steeping them in boiling water, pressing down on the lemons from time to time to release the juice and the oils that are in the colored portion of the peel.
Other methods provided tangible additional flavor but took a parallel amount of additional work. In one, we sliced the lemons, put them and the sugar in a bowl, then pressed repeatedly with a wooden spoon or other hard utensil before adding the water.
In another, we boiled a cup of water with a cup of sugar, then steeped the colored portion of the peels. We then stirred the resulting syrup into the lemon juice and remaining water.
Along the way, we also tested a recipe that tried to short-cut the additional work by chopping the lemons coarsely in a blender. This technique resulted in a bitter edge from the white pith that is attached to the peel.
Among flavored lemonades, a big favorite among our tasters was Lavender Lemonade, which is slightly sweeter and denser due to an approximate ratio of 5 lemons to 4 cups of water and 1 cup sugar. It also has a wonderful aroma and just a hint of a bite in the flavor from a lavender infusion made with 1 cup of the water.
Also included are Mint Lemonade (which uses the steeping method) and a bright, bubbly Strawberry Lemonade, sent in by reader Virginia Greene. Greene's recipe uses frozen lemonade concentrate.
Grown-ups only should look for the Barracuda Breeze, a lemonade whose name is appropriate, given that it has a distinctive bite.
'6-6-1' LEMONADE
6 lemons
6 cups cold water
1 cup superfine or granulated sugar
Juice the lemons. In a 2 1/2-quart pitcher or other container, mix lemon juice, water and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Serve over ice.
Yield: About 8 cups.
Per 1-cup serving: 112 calories; no fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 28g carbohydrate; 26g sugar; no fiber; 4mg sodium; 6mg calcium; 44mg potassium.
1 pound (about 4 cups) fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1 (12-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
1 (2-liter) bottle lemon-lime soda, well-chilled (see note)
Lemon slices or whole strawberries, for optional garnish
In a blender, process strawberries until smooth. Add lemonade concentrate; blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a punch bowl or a pitcher with a capacity of at least 1 gallon; add soda. (If you don't have a pitcher that large, divide strawberry mixture between two pitchers; add half of the soda to each.) Garnish, if desired, with a lemon slice or a strawberry.
Yield: About 3 quarts.
Per 1-cup serving: 136 calories; no fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 34g carbohydrate; 32g sugar; 1g fiber; 21mg sodium; 11mg calcium; 75mg potassium.
Note: Regular lemon-lime soda results in a fairly sweet lemonade. For a relatively less sweet (and lower-calorie) lemonade, use seltzer or club soda.
Recipe by Virginia Greene
1 lemon
1 cup water
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons superfine or granulated sugar
2 tablespoons raspberry syrup
Fresh raspberries, for optional garnish
Juice the lemon. Combine lemon juice, water, sugar and raspberry syrup; mix until sugar dissolves. Serve over ice, garnishing with fresh raspberries.
Yield: 1 (about 10-ounce) serving.
Per serving: 210 calories; no fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 52.5g carbohydrate; 48 sugar; 1g fiber; 10mg sodium; 68mg calcium; 59mg potassium.
Adapted from a recipe from Torani Italian Syrups that was distributed by The Associated Press.
8 large lemons, divided
20 fresh mint leaves, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups boiling water
4 cups cold water
Ice cubes
Slice 7 lemons thinly. Seed sliced lemons and place in a large mixing bowl.
Add 12 mint leaves; sprinkle with sugar. Pour in boiling water.
Let sit for 45 minutes at room temperature, occasionally pressing lemons and mint with a wooden spoon.
Strain liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a glass punch bowl or a pitcher with at least a 2 1/2-quart capacity. Juice the remaining lemon; add to the strained liquid. Add cold water; stir well. Add ice cubes; stir rapidly. Ladle or pour lemonade and a few ice cubes into each glass; garnish each with a mint leaf.
Yield: About 8 cups.
Per 1-cup serving: 116 calories; no fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 29g carbohydrate; 26g sugar; no fiber; 5mg sodium; 8mg calcium; 59mg potassium.
Adapted from "My Mother's Southern Entertaining," by James Villas (William Morrow, 2000).
4cups water, divided
1/4cup fresh or 2 tablespoon dried lavender leaves
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar (preferably superfine)
Lemon slices, for optional garnish
Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add lavender; cover and steep for 1 hour.
Strain into a 2-quart or larger pitcher. Add lemon juice, sugar and remaining 3 cups water; stir until sugar dissolves. Serve in tall, ice-filled glasses, garnished with lemon slices.
Yield: 5 cups.
Per 1-cup serving: 180 calories; no fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 44g carbohydrate; 41g sugar; no fiber; 5mg sodium; 10mg calcium; 61mg potassium.
Adapted from "The Ultimate Liquor-Free Drink Guide," by Sharon Tyler Herbst (Broadway Books, 2002).
4 ounces ( 1/2 cup) tequila (preferably reposado)
1 cup guava nectar
2 ounces ( 1/4 cup) limoncello (lemon liqueur)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar (preferably superfine)
Ice cubes
2 to 4 ounces club soda
2 lemon wedges, for optional garnish
In a blender, combine tequila, guava nectar, limoncello, lemon juice and sugar. Blend until well combined. Fill 2 tall (14-ounce) glasses with ice cubes; divide tequila mixture evenly between the glasses. Top off with club soda; stir slowly to combine. Garnish the edge of each glass with a lemon wedge.
Yield: 2 servings.
Per serving: 348 calories; no fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 38g carbohydrate; 36g sugar; 1g fiber; 13mg sodium; 7mg calcium; 76mg potassium; 28g alcohol.
Adapted from "Paradise on Ice," by Mittie Hellmich (Chronicle Books, 2002).

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