Monday, July 4, 2011

The Perfect Glass of Lemonade

So, I just started this blog thing and already I have been slacking.  But what can I say?  Between eating out and eating leftovers I haven't cooked a thing all weekend.  Boring, I know.

With today being Independence Day I knew I had to write something festive.  The 4th of July is a very important day in our history, and with it comes a lot of symbolism and meaning.  *Cue images of the American Flag, Fireworks, Bald Eagles, and soldiers...* But for a lot of families, the 4th of July is the ultimate proclamation of summer food.  People grill burgers, hotdogs and brats.  They make cakes that look like American flags and for one day a year, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are consumed by the masses for their Patriotic colors.  To me, when I think about summer, I think less about what time of year it is and more about what I have done and what I have eaten.  Have I had a frozen margarita poolside?  Have I walked to the ice cream place down the street?  Have I had the pleasure of washing grill smoke out of my hair and clothes?  These things got me thinking about the ultimate summer beverage: (No, not beer) LEMONADE!

Personally, nothing feels like summer more than sitting in my backyard, in the smoltering humidity, smell of grill smoke and citranella candles in the air, drinking an ice cold glass of lemonade.  Truth is, as awesome as that sounds, I rarely ever drink lemonade, mainly because I feel obligated to make a whole pitcher and my grandeur opinion of lemonade seems to fade way before I ever get through the whole thing.  When I want a glass of lemonade, I just want a glass, ya know?

This is what prompted me to figure out how to make the perfect singular glass of lemonade.

First, I started with lemon juice and water.  By the look of traditional recipes, it seemed that 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 8 oz of water was the ideal ratio.  Then, I played around with sweeteners.  I had always used white sugar, but I have been trying really hard not to consume refined sugar so I threw in some extra players.

People who are hard core "real foodies" will tell you the only sweeteners you can use are honey and maple syrup.  These are great for a lot of things, but I wasn't so sure about Lemonade, so I threw Agave Nectar into the mix.  Agave Nectar may not be as raw and unprocessed as honey or maple syrup, but it's pretty darn close.

For this experiment, I used equal parts lemon juice, water, and sweetener in each glass.

Onto the taste testing: first of all, let me say that the honey-lemonade didn't even make it to the taste test because the honey was nearly impossible to mix into the lemon water.  It got all gloppy, stuck to the spoon, and did not dissolve easily.  I didn't care was it tasted like, it was disqualified for messiness.
As you can see from this picture here, the maple syrup changed the color of the lemon water, which I didn't like.  Upon tasting I discovered that it tasted like... maple syrup.  I half way expected this to happen but I had to try it right?

This left me with traditional sugar and agave nectar.  Both of these sweeteners dissolved easily into the lemon water without altering the appearance of the liquid.  When I tasted these, both added sweetness without overpowering the lemon or changing the flavor profile.  However, despite my use of the exact same amount of sweetener in each glass, the agave-lemonade was distinctively sweeter and therefore tasted better.  I had my husband do a blind taste test just to be sure and he also picked the agave-lemonade as the winner.

So, the next time you are looking for a refreshing glass of lemonade and not a refreshing pitcher, simply combine the following:
8 oz water
3-4 Tbsp lemon juice (test your personal preference for tartness before adding the 4th Tbsp)
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar

Happy Sipping!


  1. Awesome post. I am for sure making this for myself. And for Becky, I will also try limeade. by-the-by.. I totally imagine Matt blindfolded doing the blind taste test. Is that weird?

  2. Where do you get the agave nectar?? DJ and I have been on the hunt for weeks (ok...maybe we just looked when we went to whole foods and trader joes). We haven't been able to find it anywhere!

    PS - I love this! I will be trying some of your creations.

  3. I found it in the Health Market section of Hy-Vee. I've also seen it at Wal-Mart. Most often, it will be placed in the same aisle as the maple syrup.