Basic, Perfect Lemonade + Lemonade Popsicles

Simple Perfect Lemonade
The impact that holidays have on my mood is real. I don’t even have Memorial Day off, but a feeling I can only describe as three-day-weekend anticipation built on Friday afternoon anyway, as I watched the clock tick toward 5pm. The lack of social commitments and spectacular weather of these two days feel like a luxurious break on their own.

There aren’t many things that can break me out of my water-all-time-time beverage habit, but the arrival of summer weather is one of them. And lemonade is usually first in line for my liquid-y cravings. Amazingly, though, I’d never made it from scratch until earlier this spring during the citrus extravaganza following my trip to California.

I can’t believe I waited so long.

Just lemons and sugar

Woe to the time I’ve wasted buying lemonade from the grocery. Woe to the powdery mix that’s walking around emulating this precious elixir. Using only a few lemons, you can make the most perfect, delightful lemonade with hardly any effort at all. Please do so as soon as possible.


A misconception I had about lemonade is the quantity of lemons needed. Perhaps from previous experiences making orange juice, which tastes great but takes FOREVER since you need pounds and pounds of oranges to put together even a quart of OJ. Lemonade, on the other hand, is an ade for a reason: let’s be honest, none of us wants to drink straight, undiluted lemon juice, so it takes only a few lemons to provide enough flavor for a half gallon or so of lemonade.

To start, make a simple syrup of sugar and water. I also add a couple lemons-worth of zest to give the final product an extra punch, but you can leave it out if you prefer a softer flavor. The simple syrup allows the sugar to dissolve completely so it doesn’t separate when your lemonade chills.

Simple lemony syrup
The simple syrup is then mixed with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and some additional water to dilute the mixture. You can drink it without diluting, but it’s going to be quite intense and sugary.

Time to dilute
The final product is the quintessential lemonade: tart, cold, clean lemon flavor with a bit of sugar to elevate it to something more than I ever thought lemonade could be.

Perfect Lemonade
Now I could definitely drink the whole batch in one meal. But I want to experience this perfect lemonade whenever I want, so I opted to drink one glass and then make popsicles out of the rest. I had no idea how they would turn out, but this was one experiment that totally worked!

Now, wrapped in foil, I can have a little serving of sunshine whenever I like. Wanna make your own? Here’s the popsicle-maker!

Wrapped and ready for summer

Basic, Perfect Lemonade + Lemonade Popsicles
Adapted from Simply Recipes

3/4 c granulated sugar
1 c water
zest of one lemon
1 c freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
2 c water (to dilute)

Combine sugar and 1 c water in a small pot. Scrub all five lemons until clean, then pat dry. Zest one lemon and add the zest to the sugar and water. Stir the pot, then heat over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and mixture just begins to simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the simple syrup cools, zest the remaining lemons if you’re planning to freeze the zest (they are much easier to zest before juicing). Juice the lemons and strain to remove all the seeds and if you wish, the pulp.

Combine lemon juice and simple syrup in a pitcher. Add 2 cups water to dilute. If you prefer your lemonade even thinner, add up to a cup more.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, then serve over ice with slices of lemon if you like things pretty.

To Make Popsicles: Pour the lemonade into a popsicle mold and freeze solid. Remove from the mold and wrap pops individually in foil. Freeze until you’re ready for a refreshing summer snack.