Lemonade on a table outside

Homemade, Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade Recipe

If I could go back in time, I would tell my childhood self not to be a hipster and go against all the grain! No one with actual money (meaning adults) wants to buy a wallet made out of duct tape or caterpillars as bait. These were the entrepreneurial tendencies in our family. Instead, we should have gone with the tried and true childhood staple, a.k.a. the lemonade stand. Take out your family cookbook and MAKE HOMEMADE, FRESH- SQUEEZED LEMONADE RECIPE. It is Georgia. It is summer. You will hope to be RICH! Nothing beats a glass of lemonade on a hot day, besides maybe a riesling, and baby is it hot out!

But, alas, my sister and I never tried a lemonade stand. We wanted to venture out of the norm. Little did we know that our parents’ friends bought our duct tape wallets out of humor and pity… or maybe our parents bribed their friends? Anyway, I’m digressing.

The point is, I am still working on beating the heat because COVID shut down all the fun summer activities. (Everyone REMEMBER TO STAY HOME OR SOCIALLY DISTANCE!) I made cold-brew iced coffee, I switched it up and sweetening my coffee with simple syrup, and I broke my mid-week rule (gasp!) and sipped on that glass of riesling. Now it is time to use my good-ole southern lemonade recipe, which turns out to not be from the southern USA at all! 

The History of the Lemonade Recipe

It was way harder to pinpoint the origin of the classically known fresh-squeezed lemonade recipe than I originally expected. It has been around for ages, approximately 1,000 years to put it somewhere in the ballpark, and the basic formula hasn’t changed much since its inception. Across countries, continents, and centuries the main ingredients for a basic lemonade recipe have largely stayed the same: lemon juice, a sweetener like sugar or honey, and water. Because of this, there are many accounts of this thirst-quenching drink across the globe. 

A large bowl of lemons
A big bowl of lemons, cannot wait to use in my fresh-squeezed lemonade recipe.

Lemonade from the Origin of Lemons to the 13th Century Ancients

A long, long, long, time ago (scientists and paleontologists found fossils of leaves dating back to some 8 million years ago?!!) ancestors of lemon and other citrus fruit came from China.

At some point, different citrus fruit such as citron and mandarin were cultivated together, shared some creative juices, and voila, the hybridized lemon was born. In the 10th century, we have our first evidence of what we now know as the lemon tree–written in a text about farming by Qustus Al-Rumi (not to be confused with the famous poet also named Rumi).

In the same century, an incredibly important Persian poet, philosopher, and traveler named Nasir-i-Khusraw wrote a description of the 10th-century Egyptian lifestyle that included the drink qatarmizat. Qatarmizat, a drink of sweet and sour lemon juice, was traded and exported from Egypt well into the 13th century and may be the first known lemonade drink.

Later, In the 12th century, a physician to the Sunni Muslim leader Saladin named Ibn Jami’ wrote a paper about lemons. This paper helped spread the word about the cultivation and use of lemons. 

Lemonade Recipes Gaining Popularity in Europe during the 17th and 18th Centuries

Lemonade became an incredibly popular drink in Paris during the 17th century, and they first introduced the fizzy style most common in Europe. Made of honey, sparkling water, and lemon juice, this drink was sold by vendors on the streets of Paris. It was so popular they created an organization named the Compagnie de Limonadiers. Compagnie de Limonadiers is considered to be the first “soda” company. 

In the 18th century, a British chemist named Joseph Priestley invented carbonated water. Before this invention, sparkling water came directly from mineral springs and those bubbles were from naturally-occurring gases. Cool right?!

A few years later a German-Swiss jeweler named Johann Schweppe created a process for carbonation using a compression pump. This process allowed carbonated water and carbonated drinks to become mass-produced. You may recognize his last name. The company kept with tradition by keeping his name for the carbonated drink brand making tonic waters and ginger ales.

A lemon cut in half, a juicer, and a bowl of lemons.
Let’s squeeze the lemons for our lemonade recipe!

The Introduction of Lemonade to the United States

Within the same century, across the ocean, Lemonade finally became popular in the United States as a result of immigration (like all yummy and good things!) and the temperance movement. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) fought for abstinence from alcohol and “gently” pushed individuals to drink lemonade instead. 

Prohibition became the law in the United States in the 20th century, which led to illegal speakeasies and moonshine. I do not believe it actually led to drinking more lemonade… Does anyone know the statistics on that? If so, leave in the comments below!!!

Now, in the 21st century, lemonade maintains it’s popularity across the U.S.

Squeezing lemons for my lemonade recipe.
Squeezing lemons for my lemonade recipe.

Some More Cool Facts About Lemonade

Lemonade outside on a cloudy day.
Lemonade outside on a cloudy day.
  • The term “Lemonade” means different things in different places. In places like the United States and India the typical lemonade recipe refers to the combination of sugar, lemon juice, and water. It is “flat,” meaning there are no bubbles. Looking toward the United Kingdom and New Zealand you will find that lemonade has carbonation. This probably dates back to that British chemist Joseph Priestley who popularized carbonated drinks! Tip: If you are in the United Kingdom and want the type of lemonade you get in the states, ask for “cloudy lemonade.” You may get lucky and get a flat styled lemonade (though that is not always the case. Make sure to ask!) 
  • We state that lemonade is “thirst-quenching” for a reason! Food researchers have discovered that lemonade triggers the salivary glands in our mouths. The saliva provides relief from the dry mouth feeling caused by fatigue and dehydration. Cool right? No wonder people drink a lot of lemonade when the climate is hot and humid. What a “refreshing” fact! 
  • Lemonade stands are actually illegal in certain areas of the U.S. Officials are starting to regulate the little pop-up shops! It turns out only 15 states allow lemonade stands without a permit. Make sure to look into getting a permit, license, and/or the need to pass health safety regulations. Otherwise, you could get in trouble with the law. There have been many instances with children’s’ stands getting hefty fines for working without a permit! 

How to Make Lemonade: Your homemade lemonade recipe

More Lemons!
More Lemons!

Lemonade is very easy to make. Remember that simple syrup from last week? Simple syrup is your starting point.

First, start your simple syrup on the stove by combining 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. Keep it low and slow allowing the sugar to dissolve in the water. Make sure not to boil the water as that will ruin the ratio.

Second, squeeze your lemons to get out all of that yummy juice. I personally use a juicer that collects the lemon juice underneath. My juicer also acts as a measuring cup! If you don’t like that version, I also recommend the version that you squeeze together. If you want an electric juicer, I recommend the Smeg citrus juicer or a Breville juicer!

Once you squeezed your lemon, make sure to strain or scoop out all of the seeds. No one wants to choke on those!

Finally, in a pitcher, combine the lemon juice, simple syrup, and water. Viola, you made lemonade! Isn’t it a simple lemonade recipe? For a little extra flair, add fresh mint to the mix. If you want to make it alcoholic, add some vodka!

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Homemade, Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Emily Course: Beverages, RecipesCuisine: SouthernDifficulty: Easy
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

5

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of Sugar

  • 1 Cup of Water

  • 2 Cups of Lemon Juice

  • 3-5 Cups of Water

Directions

  • Start making simple syrup by adding 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water together in a saucepan. Turn the heat to low and stir once in awhile to help the sugar dissolve. Take off the heat once the sugar is dissolved.
  • While the simple syrup is coming together, juice and/or squeeze 2 cups of lemon juice and add to your pitcher.
  • Then, add the simple syrup to the pitcher.
  • Finally, add the extra water to your pitcher. I like 3 cups of water, but some find that a bit sour. Combine water until you are happy with the flavor.
  • Stir the lemonade together and chill in the refrigerator
  • Serve cold!

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12 Comments

  1. I absolutely love fresh squeezed lemonade! We always keep a pitcher in the fridge this time of year, and love adding gin or fresh strawberries. Using simple syrup is my favorite way to make it as well. It’s so much better than just mixing in the sugar cold.

  2. There is nothing better than homemade lemonade! I need to get a good juicer or squeezer because squeezing all the lemons is definitely the worst part, haha.

  3. You had so many fun lemonade facts packed into this article, and I love it! It was great to learn about the history of the beverage, what it’s like in other countries in comparison to the US, and of course.. how to make it! I haven’t had a fresh lemonade in a LONG time. I’ll have to make this sometime soon!

  4. There is literally nothing better than a glass of fresh lemonade on a hot day. I am definitely saving this recipe to make soon!

  5. Wow I had no idea about the origins of lemonade! This was so very interesting to read. We are big fans of it in our household so I will definitely have to give this a try!

  6. Yum! This is literally perfect for summer! I will have to give it a shot soon.

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