Lemonade

Aside

lemons

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.

Cocktail Science: Is Tap Water Ruining Your Homemade Cocktails?

Broken faucet

This is a link to a review by Kevin Liu, from Serious Eats and is a very interesting read. It’s also quite similar, but does not go into the same depth as Jeffrey Steingarten’s article about water in his book “The Man Who Ate Everything”. which is a brilliant compillation of all of his food essays for the food and wine section at Vogue Magazine. Anyway, this article is all about minerals in water and how they affect it’s overall taste.

http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/08/cocktail-science-is-water-ruining-your-cocktails-hard-water-hacking-perfect-water-minerals.html?ref=title

My experience with coffee

Turkish Coffee
I would say that coffee is probably one of the most widely and commonly drunk beverages in the world, alongside tea and water. A huge amount of people drink it every day, sometimes several times a day and it is used both to ward off winter chills and to cool oneself down (honestly, hot beverages quench your thirst better than cool), it is a stimulant, it’s a delicious drink and you can find it almost everywhere. But after all this, it is EXTROADINARY how many people make, drink or buy revolting coffee. It is amazing. I myself like to think I know a decent coffee from a bad one and am confident with making coffee, whether with a plunger or a Bialetti. I haven’t yet got the hang of the espresso machine but with a lot of practise, I think I’ll get it right. Anyway, the absolute worst one is instant coffee. It doesn’t taste anything like coffee, and is more of a watery brown soup. The smell is not nearly so aromatic and pungent as the real thing as well, particularly when it’s been freshly ground the same day. However, for people who are just used to instant coffee, I guess it’s fine. Another example of bad coffee is coffee from cafes where either the froth is overcooked, or even burnt, where it is too weak/watery or where it just tastes strange. I have experienced all these types of coffees at various cafes and restaurants so I get a bit nervous when I go somewhere different. You tend to become loyal to a select bunch where you know you’ll get a good one. One which is strong, rich and bold and which has the taste of luxury. It’s a shame that all cafes can’t be like that as it’s not actually that difficult. Many people do not notice any of these afflictions though, It’s quite strange really, maybe all of their tastebuds have died, or they drink so many a day they hardly notice what it tastes like. I don’t know, maybe they just don’t care. I however think that when you make/buy coffee you should do it well as it is very expensive. Below is my method for brewing coffee whether in a plunger or bialetti and I also have reccomendations for brands and types to buy if you are in the market for a new maker. Note – I make very strong coffee so if you prefer a weaker brew then use 1 tbsp per cup or even more than me. Feel free to experiment

Method –
Completely empty and refill your kettle with fresh cold water (this is to ensure you have no minerals or metallic taste which can affect the coffee) and boil. If using a coffee grinder, scoop two tbsps of coffee beans into your grinder now and grind till coarse and of the consistency you have seen with other people’s ground coffee. When the kettle’s boiled, pour the water into your desired cup and plunger and leave for a minute or so to warm them up. Empty the plunger, add 2 tbsp of fresh ground or pre-ground coffee, pour in 1¼ cups of the slightly cooled boiled water and briefly stir. Put the plunger just above the surface of the coffee and leave to brew for 3 mins. Empty warmed cup, add desired amount of coffee sugar to cup then very firmly press down on the plunger to add a crema affect, then pour in your coffee. Add milk. Enjoy.

Note – Photo credit from the wonderful book – Turkey: A Food Lover’s Journey by Leanne Kitchen