Fresh Basil Lemonade
A few weeks ago my dad called me.
“Heya, you want some canning jars?!”
I was pretty sure that there was some ulterior motive there, but since I do plan on doing more canning this year, I accepted. I figured it would save me a few bucks.
When I picked up the jars from my sister’s house two weeks ago, I realized that my dad and I have very different definitions of the word “some.” To me, some means a few dozen.
To my dad, some means anywhere between 400 and a million.
I am up to my ears in mason jars now and am getting creative out of necessity. I’m using them as glasses, in place of Tupperware, and even contemplated creating an artsy-fartsy spice storing situation with them.
At the end of the day though, I’m probably going to give at least half of them away and still be left with more than I know what to do with.
Anyway, one actually useful way I started using these bad boys is to transport drinks during picnics and stuff. Basically, you can mix up individual drinks and slap on the lids and then keep them chilled in a cooler until needed. Of course, you could put almost any drink in these and it if happened to have booze in it, that would probably be okay.
Yield: Makes 4 drinks.
Basil Simple Syrup:
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil
6-8 big slices of lemon peel
1 part basil simple syrup
1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 part water
1) Add sugar and water in a medium pot along with basil and lemon rind.
2) Bring to a simmer and stir to make sure sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, cover, and let cool to room temperature which will take probably 20-30 minutes.
3) Juice fresh lemons. 1 big lemon will give you about 1/4-1/3 cup of juice so plan accordingly.
4) To make a lemonade, combine 1/2 cup of simple syrup with 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice and 1/2 cup water. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Homemade lemonade in the summer is kind of romantic, but it’s dumb simple to make. It can have as little as three ingredients (including water). If you want to get fancy pants you could up the ingredient list to four and add some fresh herbs.
Basil works awesomely, but mint would be equally good.
The trick to making the lemonade have a basil flavor without mashing up actual basil for each drink (and therefore ruining the clean color) is to make a simple syrup with the basil.
When I’m making simple syrups for alcoholic drinks I usually start with about a 1:1 ratio for simple syrup (water and sugar), but I wanted this one to be a bit lighter so I did two parts water to one part sugar.
Two cups of water and one cup of sugar worked great. I tossed about 1/2 cup of fresh basil straight into the pot and a few big chunks of lemon rind just for good measure.
Bring this to a simmer and stir it to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Then remove it from the heat, cover it, and let it cool to room temperature. This will give plenty of time for the basil to infuse into the syrup. It should take 20-30 minutes for it to cool down.
If you wanted to make this in advance you could stick it in your fridge and it would keep for a week or two at this point.
As you can see from the color, our syrup has definitely been infused with some basil and lemon essence.
This stuff isn’t the most attractive color, but it’s super-flavorful which is all you should be concerned with at this point!
Making the drink
If you go through the trouble of making a simple syrup, also go through the trouble of squeezing fresh lemons. There’s just nothing that compares to fresh-squeezed juice.
If you are squeezing your juice out of a plastic lemon, don’t tell people you got the idea from my website please.
A good drink for me is 1/2 cup of the simple syrup, 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of water served over a lot of ice and garnished with some fresh basil leaves.
An even better drink is the above plus a shot or two of gin.
This lemonade is simple to make and crushes the summer heat.
In return for introducing you all to it, I expect you to comment and tell me what to do with all of these freakin’ mason jars.