By Kiley Gwynn | Published July 2018

When summer hands me blue skies and hot days, I make lemonade. And not from a powdered mix that contains preservatives, colorants, and artificial sweeteners—real, fresh-squeezed lemonade. The perfect balance of bright acidity, light tartness, and a hint of sweetness can’t be accomplished any other way. Plus, making freshly squeezed lemonade only takes a few minutes and is easy peasy, lemon squeezy. While a glistening, ice-cold glass of lemonade is a treat unto itself, adding botanically infused simple syrup takes this classic summer beverage to a whole new level. Simple syrups are the key to any good lemonade, even if you aren’t using botanicals. Making a simple syrup ensures that your sweetener is evenly distributed instead of sinking to the bottom. Simple syrups are a breeze to make in advance, and they keep for up to a month in a refrigerator. Keep them on hand to sweeten a glass at a time or a whole batch of drinks. It’s also fun to mix and match!

Basic Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade

Yields 1 quart (32 ounces)

Ingredients:

For the simple syrup:

1/4 cup organic cane sugar or local honey

3/4 cup water

For the lemonade:

1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, roughly 4-6 organic lemons

2 cups water

Directions:

To make the simple syrup, combine your sweetener of choice with water in a small saucepan over low heat. Slowly stir the mixture until the sweetener has dissolved. If using honey, take care not to let the mixture come to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and set the syrup aside to cool.

I prefer my lemonade on the tart side. If you prefer it sweeter, increase the sweetener to 1/2 cup and decrease the water to 1/2 cup.

To make your lemonade base, first employ a little trick. I don’t remember where I learned this, but pressing and rolling the lemons on your countertop magically makes them juicier. Roll the lemons back and forth under your palm a few times, then slice each lemon in half and juice them. If your juicer doesn’t catch the seeds, pass the juice through a strainer before mixing it with the other ingredients. Combine lemon juice, simple syrup, and water in a glass jar and chill or serve immediately over ice.

Matcha Lemonade

Matcha, a delightful green tea from Japan, gives this lemonade its vibrant green color as well as contributing a rich earthy, slightly bitter finish.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons organic matcha tea

1/4 cup organic cane sugar

3/4 cup water

Directions:

Sift the matcha into the sugar and stir to combine—this will help prevent the matcha from forming clumps when added to the water. Combine the sugar-and-matcha mixture with the water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Slowly stir until the sugar and matcha have dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and set the syrup aside to cool. Add the syrup into a glass jar with the base lemonade recipe. Stir and chill or serve immediately over ice.

Mint Hibiscus Lemonade

This gorgeous ruby red lemonade packs a tart punch with a cool minty aftertaste.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup organic cane sugar

2 tablespoons organic hibiscus flowers

1 teaspoon organic mint tea

3/4 cup water

Directions:

Combine sugar, hibiscus, mint tea, and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Gently simmer for five minutes, remove from heat, and steep for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup into a glass jar and combine with the base lemonade recipe. Stir and chill or serve immediately over ice.

Lavender Honey Lemonade Recipe

Lavender and honey are the perfect marriage of floral and sweet without being heavy or cloying.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons organic lavender flowers

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup local honey

Directions:

To make a floral simple syrup, combine the lavender flowers and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and gently simmer for five minutes. Remove the pan from heat, allow to cool slightly before mixing in the honey, and then let steep for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup into a glass jar and combine with the base lemonade recipe. Stir and chill or serve immediately over ice.

All botanicals are available for purchase at the Mountain Rose Herbs Mercantile.

Mountain Rose Herbs, 152 W 5th Ave., #3, 541/741-7307, mountainroseherbs.com