Black and Blue Lemonade

Yum

E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, once wrote that “The early summer days on a farm are the happiest and fairest days of the year.”  And although I didn’t grow up on a farm, we did live in the country, and my grandparents did (and still do) own a beautiful dairy farm.  It was a magical place.  I can remember running, barefoot, into the little creek, squealing with my siblings because the water from the mountain was as cold as winter ice.  We splashed and played until our toes were numb, and then we ran to climb trees, pick flowers, or just explore the barn. The barn was a quiet, dusty place– a place with a quiet settledness which comes from weathering almost 200 years of storms and cold, snowy winters.  I remember climbing into the hayloft and settling into the prickly hay, just listening to the sounds of the old building settling and sighing– contentedly, I thought.  Sometimes, if I was lucky, I might see a barn kitten.  I did my best thinking in that barn, with the sunlight peeking through the slits in the boards and dancing over to the corner where I was sitting.  One giant, open window opened up to a constant stream of fresh air and a million dollar view.  I could think anything, or be anything, up there.  Well . . . anything, that is, until my Gram yelled for me to come help her snap the green beans.  😉

As a kid, I didn’t think there was anything better than those first, glorious days of summer.  My eyes would crack open at the normal time for school, and just as my body was grumbling about getting up, I would have that sudden, delicious remembrance . . . school was out for the summer!  And suddenly, with my tiredness gone, I would leap out of bed, inhaling the fresh morning air coming through the windows with new vigor.  What would I do, today?  Would we ride our bikes, dig worms in the garden so we could go fishing, or swing each other on the tire swing so high that the rider would squeal with an intoxicating mixture of fear and excitement?  The days were deliciously long, with the sun graciously staying up for us well into the evening.  We ran around the yard, bare-foot, seeing who could catch the most lightning bugs in our recycled peanut butter jars.  At the end of the day we collapsed, happy and exhausted, into bed.  With skinned knees and arms burned golden brown from hours spent playing in the sunshine, we slept the sleep of the just– deep, and good, and sound.

This lemonade is the memory of those summers.  It has the sunny beauty of lemons, the pucker of fresh berries, and the overwhelming, simple beauty of summer.  And if you decide to take a late night horseback ride or a moonlight swim with someone you love, why, I won’t judge 😉  Those types of beautiful memories stay with you, no matter how old or how many miles away you are.

What are we waiting for?  Let’s do this!

Black and Blue Lemonade

(My original recipe– feel free to use it and change it, but please link back here so no one steals my work 🙂

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup blackberries

4 lemons, juiced

1 1/2 cup water

Directions:

Boil 1/2 cup sugar and water for 1 minute, so that sugar dissolves completely, and remove from heat.  In a separate bowl mash berries and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, so that berries will start releasing their juices.  Mix lemon juice into water mixture.  When water has cooled to warm, mix in the mashed berries.  Serve over ice (mixture is sweet, and it’s meant to be diluted by ice or water to taste).

Now, in pictures! 🙂

1

The basis of any good lemonade (or iced tea, or anything with sugar, really), is a simple syrup.  Why is it called Simple Syrup?  I have no idea.  But it really is simple to make– it’s basically equal parts sugar and water (I added a little extra water to cut the sweetness, but this is personal preference– “real” simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water), boiled for a minute and then cooled, which helps to ensure that the sugar doesn’t “settle out” of the lemonade.  If you’ve ever had a glass of iced tea or lemonade (or kool-aid, for that matter) that left a layer of shifting white sugar on the bottom of the cup . . . you can bet that the sugar was added to the water, cold, and that the person didn’t boil the sugar water before making the mix.

Now you know.

Once the sugar water has boiled for about 1 minute, turn off the heat and let the sugar water cool down.  I went ahead and added the lemon juice to the water, at this point– mainly because it helped it cool down a little bit more quickly.  And quicker cooling syrup equals drinking delicious lemonade sooner, so it seemed like a no brainer to me.  😉

2

While the syrup is cooling, go ahead and mash your berries and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, together, in a separate bowl.  I used a potato masher to mash the berries, but you can use anything tough and spiky that you want to mash them.  (No, no.  You may not use your evil Aunt Mabel, even if she’s tough and spiky.  ;).  Adding a little sugar to the smashed berries just helps them to “macerate,” which is a fancy word for letting off their juices and getting all nice and squishy squashy.

3

When the lemon/sugar mixture has cooled down, add that to your beautiful berries.  Seriously.  Isn’t that just so gorgeous?  Pop that baby in the fridge to get nice and cooled down, so it will be ready to “partaaaayyy” when you are.

 

Black and Blue Lemonade

 

When you’re ready to serve the berry lemonade, put lots of ice in the glasses.  This mixture is basically a base syrup, which means it is very sweet and needs to be diluted with water, to taste.  The ice will dilute the sweetness even further, which will make this lemonade Ooooohhhh so delicious.  And if I do say so, myself, the ice helps to hold the berry pieces “under the surface,” so that you can drink the taste, but you won’t get a random blueberry in your mouth without wanting one.  I thought about straining the lemonade, but the berries were so pretty that I just left them in.  But go your own way, on that one.  Your kitchen; your rules 😉

Black and Blue Lemonade

 

You can go really fancy, if you want, and freeze berries in ice cubes, or garnish with a swizzle stick or toothpick loaded with berries.  Put a lemon slice and a sprig of fresh mint on each glass, too.

Black and Blue Lemonade

 

And then sit back and take a sip.  Enjoy your Memorial day picnic.  Relish the smells of charcoal fires, cookouts, and hot dogs on the grill.  Listen to the hamburgers sizzling and the kids laughing.  Feel the sun on your face.  Remember those feelings of exhilaration on those first, magical days of summer.  Think about the ones you love.  And, just for a moment . . . you’ll be a carefree, summer kid, again.

You did it.  And I’m just so proud of you.

 


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3 Comments

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