Friday, 6 June 2008

Home-made lemonade (Σπιτική λεμονάδα)

My aunt has just become a great-grandmother for the second time, to a baby boy living many miles away from her in New Zealand. The internet has made those miles seem like a short bus ride across town; I passed on to her some photos of the new addition to the family.

"Let me make you a coffee," she said to me, to which I passed, because it was early morning and I had just had my caffeine fix at home. Coffee can be a personal thing: some people (like myself) can only have a coffee the way they like it made, which is why I like to make it myself.

"Then have a lemonade," she said, getting up to fetch it for me. (If anyone thinks I need a new camera, donations are most welcome).

"I'll get it myself," I answered.

"Look for the Coke bottle on the fridge door," she instructed, as if I didn't know where it was. I've had many lemonades in that house for me to know exactly where to look for it. In fact, I once made some of this refreshing lemonade syrup for my family, according to my aunt's recipe. They weren't too keen on it, unfortunately, preferring to drink the readily available (and much sweeter) fresh natural orange juice straight from our trees. This is fair enough; my sweet tooth is less demanding than theirs (I don't expect otherwise from children). I was also scolded by my husband for using up all the precious lemons to make something that needs added sugar to make it potable. This is why I don't make lemonade at home any more - that, and also because I usually drink it all myself, in which case, I may as well stick to orange juice or water.

Lemonade syrup is really quite easy to make. The tastiest version is when the lemons are tangy rather than sour, and the whole lemon has been used to get as much flavour out of the fruit and into the syrup as possible. I like to grate the zest of the lemons, then juice them, and throw in the whole fruit into the saucepan with the sugar and water to boil up altogether. The cooled strained syrup is then bottled and stored in the fridge. To make a glass of refreshing lemonade, a few tablespoons of this syrup are placed in a glass, and cold water is poured on top, with a few ice cubes and a sprig of mint for the final visual effect.

As Delia Smith says, "there are a million and one commercial versions, but nothing can compare with the flavour of fresh lemons made into lemonade." And there are also a million versions of storable lemonade syrup for making refreshing lemonade in the summer which you can browse over the internet: some are for storing as a syrup, others are for drinking once you make it, as well as some single serves for those of us whose family doesn't appreciate home-made lemonade. And if you're interested in making something totally different, but equally refreshing, The Nicest Woman in the World™ once served me some kanelada, a drink often served up in Eastern Crete, which Mariana made recently.

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