Lemonade is one of the most refreshing drinks you can make yourself. It’s easy. Delicious. And it’s choked with enough sugar to rev you up and let you walk on the ceiling if you want to.

When I tried to quit my soft drink addiction, this recipe really, really helped. For one, it takes a fair bit of effort to make large batches, so you’re forced to make it last instead of chugging it down within an hour of making it. Small batches are really quick though.

And if you or a neighbour are lucky enough to have a lemon tree, it’s very economical. The price of supermarket lemons borders on nightmarish so this may have to be one of your treats for Summer and Autumn.

Two things you need to know if you’ve never made it before –

You’ve got to find sour lemons. There are some varieties which are really, really sweet and taste like a mild grapefruit. They make crap lemonade. If your lemons are fairly mild, just so long as they don’t taste like grapefruit, you can still make it. It just won’t pack the same punch or achieve the liveliness you’re after. And if the ones you get are waxed, give them a really good scrub in the sink before you grate their zest.

Secondly, you have to make it in advance to allow its flavour to develop and intensify. After two days it will really  brighten up. And this is not unique to lemonade but to curries, bolognese, soup. It also lets the sugar soften the sharpness of the lemons which I have never achieved with same day lemonade.

Lastly, while writing this post I thought of a description that I think would be very good on the back of a lemonade bottle. –

Lemonade encapsulates the liveliness of Spring and Summer. Each and every sip reminds you of warm, gentle memories picnicking at the beach, playing outside with your cousins and friends. It evokes scents like wild flowers blossoming in hedge groves, the buzzing of bees and cicadas from it’s characteristic frothiness. All bottled up in one rather simple, old-fashioned drink.

– Just waiting for that call from Sprite or 7 Up… Even L & P.

Anyway, here is the recipe –

Note – I’ve specified “around” quanitites for the sugar/honey and did so because I prefer a sharper, stronger lemonade so I often use a little less than recipes call for. You may prefer a sweeter one. So I’ll leave it up to you.

You’ll have to play around with anyway because your lemon variety may not yield as much juice as mine or it could be a lot less tangy. If you’re not feeling confident, I suggest making it exactly to the recipe and then adjusting it after the two days. Take notes for the next time you make it. Because you will want to.

Homemade Lemonade

Recipe excerpted from the newly revised “Mrs Beeton’s How to Cook” recipe book, made by Gerard Baker. A terrific and beautiful cookbook.

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, and juice of 3

Around 150g of caster sugar, or about 120g mild English honey

1L of tap water

Combine all ingredients in a large, glass jug. Cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for a couple of days, stirring occasionally. When steeped, pour the liquid through a sieve into a new glass jug and use within 1 week of making.