- 2¼ cups (432g) granulated sugar*
- 1¼ cups (10oz/284ml) water
- 2½ cups (20oz/567ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 13-15 medium lemons)
- Zest from 2 of the lemons, peeled into strips
In a medium pot, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved, and then add the strips of zest. Let cool for about 5 minutes, and then stir in the lemon juice
Transfer the concentrate to a large jar or another airtight container or covered pitcher for storage.
To serve: mix 1 part syrup with 2 parts water, diluting with additional water to taste. Serve over ice. (Tip: On hot days, I like to start with lemonade that’s a touch on the strong side to account for melting ice.)
*This amount of sugar creates a balanced, sweet-tart lemonade.
If you prefer a sweeter drink, use and additional ¼ cup of sugar (for 1½ cups/480g total).
If you prefer tart lemonade, reduce the sugar by ¼ cup (for 2 cups/384g total).
The lemon zest increases the bright, lemony flavor in the concentrate. I use a vegetable peeler to remove thin strips, avoiding as much of the bitter white pith as possible. While you could strain these out of the concentrate, I leave them in and people seem to think they make the lemonade special. If you’d prefer to strain them out, however, allow the zest to steep in the concentrate for at least an hour or so for best flavor.
For a minty variation, add 2-3 fresh mint sprigs to the concentrate when adding the lemon juice. To enhance the flavor, I gently tear the edges of some of the leaves—just enough to release the essential oils while keeping the sprig intact.
Storage: The concentrate will keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 weeks or in the freezer for 6 months or more. When freezing, you may wish to divide the mixture into several smaller containers for convenient use over time.