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When summer gives you lemons, add sugar and pour over ice
0610Lemonade
The season's fresh lemons can make good old-fashioned lemonade, or be combined with oranges or strawberries for a twist on the summer staple. - photo by Tom Reed

Lemon tips

  • A bowl of fresh lemons will add fragrance and color to a room for days.
  • Add a slice or two of fresh lemon to a glass of water; it has visual appeal and makes the water taste and smell better.
  • If you are reducing your sodium or fat intake, try squeezing a wedge of fresh lemon on salads, steamed vegetables, soups and stews.
  • Roll a room temperature lemon on the counter a few times to maximize the amount of juice you get when squeezing it.
  • Add the grated zest of fresh lemon to recipes for added intensity in cakes and cookies.

Sunkist

Whipping up a batch of sweet and tangy homemade lemonade on a hot summer day is one of the season's best treats.

The drink is simple to make with just a couple of ingredients - sugar, fresh lemon juice, water and ice.

"Sugar and lemons and water, baby, there ain't nothing fancy," said Chad Vaughan, owner of Big Bear Cafe in Gainesville.

Vaughan, who said he loves lemonade, said there is a trick for the perfect homemade lemonade - and it happens in the refrigerator.

"The key is you have to make it and let it sit in the refrigerator for a while," he said. "You need to let it sit for probably 20 minutes to half an hour. All the flavors marry together and you cut up little slices of lemon and throw (them) in there, and the oil out of the lemon peel comes out. "Oh, it's magic."

But if you want to kick up the old standard, try mixing in some strawberries or oranges.

"I like them because it's a change of pace on occasion, and that's really what's exciting about using lemons - because lemons are really a flavor catalyst or flavor enhancer," said Claire Smith, director of corporate communications for Sunkist Growers in California. "They interact with your taste buds so that they kind of beef up the flavors that follow. So they are great in plain homemade lemonade, if you like that, and if you want something different on a summer day, they will enhance the flavor of the other fruit you use to make it."

And it's not much work to add these fruits to your homemade lemonade.

"Sometimes you want the traditional and sometimes you want something a little different," Smith said.

For orange lemonade, just create traditional lemonade and add two cups of fresh-squeezed orange juice, fresh orange and lemon slices and serve over ice.

The strawberry lemonade is a little more involved - make the lemonade first, then add pureed strawberries.

"It's a mixture that we came up with 14 years ago when we started growing strawberries," said Sheila Rice from Calhoun Farms in Ashburn, south of Macon. "It's a refreshing drink made with fresh strawberries. Everybody does it differently, and we have a certain recipe that we go by here, but ... you've got your tart and your sweet together.

At Calhoun Farms, the strawberry lemonade is sold by the cup and by the gallon. Rice said people come from all over to pick up the concoction.

"It's a big seller for us because it's a homemade drink made with a product that we grow," she said. "We freeze the strawberries so we can make it year round, and we even had people buy it for baby showers or punch for weddings.

"On a hot day, you can't beat it."

Vaughan said he didn't think any other fruit or flavor needed to be added to his favorite summertime thirst quencher.

"Mom (Wayne Vaughan) says people try too hard to make good food, and it's easier to just make good food," he said. "... really if you just go through it and make it with love and care and make sure you do everything right, that's when you get the perfect whatever it is."

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