If you’ve never tasted fresh lemonade, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s so much more vivid than the supermarket stuff, more about the lemon and less about the sugar.
True, juicing the lemons can be a pain, but the process becomes nearly painless if you start by softening the lemons in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then all you have to do is add sugar syrup – a mixture of sugar and water, heated until the sugar is dissolved – and some cold water. Done.
For those so inclined, there are plenty of ways to gild this lily. You can infuse the sugar syrup with fresh herbs. You can add seltzer. You can combine it with other fruit juices. Or – and here is the heart of today’s recipe — you can glorify it with flavor-packed ice cubes.
My favorite ice cubes for lemonade (or iced tea) are pureed fruit cubes. Almost any fruit will work. Just puree it, pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze them. The best tool for this job is a blender, which purees the fruit more completely than a food processor or an immersion blender.
In celebration of the Fourth of July, we’ll dress up our lemonade with three kinds of cubes – watermelon, coconut and blueberry for the red, white and blue. Holiday aesthetics and electrifying flavor aside, this drink is almost absurdly healthy. Every glass contains a half-cup each of blueberries and watermelon.
I used to think watermelon was a loser, nutritionally – all sugar and no substance. I was wrong. Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of A, as well as lycopene, potassium and magnesium. And calorie-wise, it’s modest. A full cup of diced watermelon clocks in at 46 calories.
There’s no confusion about the virtue of blueberries, which are packed with antioxidants. They’re also a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Finally, they team up beautifully with lemon juice.
Thinking of a bright white fruit with which to fill out my tri-color team of ice cubes wasn’t easy. Happily, I came upon a can of lite coconut milk in my pantry. As everyone knows, fruit and coconut go together like fireworks and the Fourth of July.
One of the most appealing aspects of this libation is that its flavor mutates and deepens as the cubes melt in the glass. I suggest giving the process a head start by letting the drink stand for a bit before serving.
Sara Moulton hosts public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and is the author of “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”