This weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer. That means vacations and swimming and long, lazy days and all sorts of good things. But, for my part of the world at least, it also means heat and humidity. So a tall, cool drink is always in order.
There is just something so refreshing about tangy lemonade, and at this time of year, with the mint plants beginning to take over the garden, a little zing from the leaves adds a nice little summery twist. Serve this from a fancy cut-glass pitcher or an old gallon pickle jar, from fine crystal goblets or mason jars, whatever your mood. And if you add a little splash of something from a bottle, I won’t tell…
Freshly Minted Lemonade
I like a few chopped mint leaves floating in the lemonade, but you can put them all in the syrup if you prefer.
6 – 7 large lemons
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup sugar
8 cup water
Chop the mint finely, and set aside about a tablespoon full. Scrub the lemons clean, and with a vegetable peeler, shave off thin slivers of the peel from one lemon. In a saucepan, stir together the sugar and one cup of the water. Stir well, then drop in the lemon peel and chopped mint and stir again. Bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Take the syrup off the heat and set aside to cool and infuse.
Meanwhile, juice the lemons. I like to zap them in the microwave for about 15 seconds, two at a time, to help release as much juice as possible. You want about 1 cup of juice. Pour the juice into a large pitcher. When the syrup has cooled, strain it through a fine sieve into the pitcher, pressing on the solids to extract as much syrup as you can. Stir the juice and syrup together. Add the remaining water – start with 6 cups, taste, and see if you want to dilute it a bit more. Remember, you will serve this over ice which will dilute it a little as well. Stir in the remaining chopped mint. Keep the pitcher chilled in the fridge. Serve in tall glasses over lots of ice.
Makes a nice big pitcher, about 9 cups