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Southern Stories
Jan 27/17

Best Food Network Lemonade Recipes, If You Squeeze Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments

So, you’re sitting on the porch, surrounded by friends, pretty pillows and sweltering heat. And what’s the one thing everyone wants? Yep, that’s right. Fall football season.
Stay put, long-suffering Southerners. It ain’t happening for awhile.

What else do they want? A refreshing iced lemonade. So you scour the internet looking for interesting twists on an old squeeze and keep coming back to the recipe monolith that is the Food Network. There’s no getting around it: Paula Deen, Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray all have their signature lemonade flavors, but which one is best?

Well, we’re rolling up our sleeves, exhausting our biceps on mashing three bags of lemons, sticky-ing the kitchen with simple syrup and finding out. The rules: No recipes with fruit or alcohol. Herbs are fine. Simplicity is often best, and, let’s be honest, you can always add vodka to anything here.

Best for light refreshment
Fresh Lemonade Recipe, Ina Garten
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 cup superfine sugar, to taste
1 cup crushed ice
4 cups water
Blend together until smooth.

Our thoughts: This made a foamy, light drink that was very refreshing. More lemon water than lemonade. If your guests are hankering for some full-on lemonade flavor, they may be disappointed by this offering. But if you want something with a sweet lemon zing, this is very nice.

The Big Hit or Big Miss
Italian Lemonade, Giada De Laurentiis
2 cups lemon juice
2 cups basil simple syrup
2 cups cold water

Basil simple syrup:
1 bunch fresh basil
2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Mix lemon juice, basil simple syrup and water. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Basil simple syrup: In a saucepan, combine basil, sugar and water and simmer until sugar dissolves. Strain and cool.

Our thoughts: “1 bunch of fresh basil” is pretty vague. We used a handful and it was maybe too strong. But if it’s too much, keep diluting until you like it. Some of our tasters loved it. Some didn’t. But it was definitely the most interesting lemonade on this list. It goes without saying it would make a very delicious martini if — during the dilution process — you substituted a little vodka for that water.

Best for Drinking Your Dessert
Honey-Vanilla Lemonade, Rachael Ray
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a large saucepan, combine sugar, vanilla, honey and 2 cups water. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Put lemon juice in a pitcher, pour sugar syrup into it. Add water to equal one gallon.
Serve over ice.

Our thoughts: The original recipe calls for steeping a vanilla bean in the sugar and honey mixture, but we didn’t have one, so we added a teaspoon of the highest quality vanilla extract we could find. It worked just as well. The mixture was quite sweet, or maybe vanilla’s propensity for showing up in baked goods means it makes things seem sweeter than they are.
Overall, this was a great variation on your standard lemonade and it would be fantastic with rum. Or whiskey — the vanilla and honey gave it a sweet-and-sour mix flavor.

Best for Good Breath
Minted Lemonade, Bobby Flay
2 cups sugar
6 cups water
2 cups fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mint leaves
To make simple syrup: Place 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved and let cool. Place lemon juice in a large pitcher, add remaining 4 cups water and 1 cup of the simple syrup or more to taste. Stir in mint leaves and refrigerate one hour. Serve over ice.

Our thoughts: What is more Southern summer than mint and lemonade? This lemonade is easy to alter to your taste, with the simple syrup and water and steeped mint. It gives a mojito reminder, which might have you running to the liquor cabinet for some rum, but summer does that to us anyway, doesn’t it?

Best for a Sweet Tooth
Lemon Ice, Sandra Lee
1 (1.5-ounce) can frozen lemonade mix concentrate
2 tbsp packaged lemon gelatin mix
1 tbsp sugar
In a blender, pulse lemonade, gelatin and sugar. Add ice to almost fill blender and continue to pulse until ice is crushed. Pour into glasses and serve.

Our thoughts: We used the Minute Maid brand frozen lemonade mix, and maybe we used too much. Who can find a 1.5 ounce can of lemonade concentrate? We used a 12-ounce can. What? We’re sure it’s fine. Anyway, this tasted very much like a lemon Starburst. It was not bad, but probably too sweet. This recipe has plenty of potential, though, so give it a shot and play around with the proportions. (Lemon gelatin mix is on the baked goods aisle, by the Jello mixes in the grocery store.)


Best for Pleasing Everyone
Paula Deen’s Lemonade Recipe
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar, mixed in water

Stir everything together until sugar is dissolved. Add enough water to make a half a gallon. Maybe add another squeeze of lemon, this isn’t rocket science, y’all. And as Paula says, “It ain’t Southern lemonade without fresh mint.”

Our thoughts: Where’s the butter, Paula? We kid, we kid. This is a classic recipe and we have zero complaints. We’d drink this on the front porch all year long.

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