How about a new lemonade recipe for National lemonade Day, August 20th?

The lemon tree first grew wild in the Assam region of India, and was ultimately brought to the Middle East.

While archaeological evidence shows that people drank lemon drinks centuries earlier, the first known written reference to the lemon tree dates from a 10th-century Arabic book on farming (source).

The history of lemonade continues below. But first, the recipe, from Chef Kris Koch of The SIX15 Room at The Grand Hotel, Minneapolis [photo #1].

His preparation tips:

  • Make the lemons easier to juice, and yield more juice, by softening them in the microwave, about 10-20 seconds depending on how strong your microwave is, prior to juicing. The goal is to soften the lemons—not to cook them, which slightly breaks down the little juice sacs inside.
  • No juicer, no problem! Peel the lemons and toss them in a blender with ¼ cup of water. Blend and strain through a fine strain colander.
  • Simple syrup is great way to sweeten lemonade. While granulated sugar takes time to dissolve in cold liquids, simple syrup was invented to dissolve with no problem. It’s easy to make ahead of time. Simply stir equal parts water and granulated sugar over heat until it boils, then cool.
  • Agave nectar is an alternative to simple syrup; and has half the glycemic index of sugar. Use half as much agave, though: it’s twice as sweet as sugar. Honey is another option.


  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ½ cup cucumber juice (the easiest way to make it is in a blender with a peeled English cucumber [photo #3])
  • ¼ cup simple syrup
  • 2-3 quarts water
  • Garnish: slice of lemon, lime or cucumber and a sprig of mint
  • Optional: gin, tequila, vodka
  • Optional: ice

    1. BLEND the ingredients thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    2. GARNISH as desired and serve. with a sliced lemon, lime, cucumber and sprig of mint.

    The history of prepared foods depends on the written record; and the further you go back in time, the fewer the written records.

    Lemons and sugarcane are both native to India, where an early form of lemonade called nimbu pani was consumed.

    It is believed that lemons were introduced to the Middle East around 700 C.E.


    Cucumber Lemonade
    This lemonade adds cucumber and a touch of lime juice (photo courtesy Kimpton Hotels).

    [2] Here’s how to keep lemons fresh for an entire month, from The Kitchn.

    English Cucumbers

    [3] English cucumbers. As they mature on the vine, they grow quite long (photo courtesy Mastronardi Produce).

    The earliest written evidence of lemon juice drink, from Egypt, dates to around 1000 C.E., made with lemons, dates and honey.

    Subsequent written records shows that trade in lemon juice was active by 1104. Records of the Jewish community in Cairo, that span the 10th through 13th centuries, note the consumption of qatarmizat—lemon juice with lots of sugar—which was made for local consumption as well as export (source).

    In 1676, Compagnie de Limonadiers was founded in Paris, with monopoly rights to sell lemonade. Street vendors served the drink from tanks on their backs.

    The first known reference to carbonated lemonade comes from 1833; it was sold at refreshment stands in Britain. The R. White’s Lemonade brand, still sold in the U.K., been produced since 1845.

    What About The Ice?

    Much of early lemonade was served without ice. Refrigeration and ice in warm weather are more modern benefits.

    While drinking lemonade-type drinks may date back thousands of years, ice to keep foods cold was available only to the wealthy few, who could afford ice houses. In ancient times, ice cut from the mountains of Italy was shipped by barge (on a miniscule scale) to the Middle East and Egypt.

    The earliest remains of ice pits found are from the seventh century B.C.E., with references suggesting that the techniques were used before the 11th century B.C.E.

    By the Renaissance, people of means built ice houses on their properties, in shaded areas or below ground. During the winter, the ice house would be loaded up with ice and snow and packed with insulation such as straw or sawdust.

    The original purpose was to store perishable foods in the warm months, but the ice could also be chipped to cool drinks, or make ice cream and sorbet.

    By the 19th century, commercial ice houses would store tons of ice for purchase. Still, ice houses could only exist where there was a source of natural ice.

    In 1806, Frederic Tudor, a New England entrepreneur, came up with the idea to export ice on a commercial basis. Tudor’s first shipment was to the Caribbean, and the “Ice King” ultimately shipped ice all over the world. Tudor invented an entire industry, the ice trade.

    Domestically, “ice men” carried blocks of ice to homes and businesses, where they were stored in “ice boxes” which kept perishable foods cool.

    The first home refrigerator with a small freezing compartment—it held two ice cube trays±was launched in the 1923. Large “deep freezers” for retail use only became common during the 1940s. That’s why people in period novels and films went to the neighborhood drug store to get ice cream!

    Big freezers did not go into mass production for home use until after World War II, and the new refrigerator-freezer units allowed people to keep lots of ice in the freezer.

    Automatic icemakers for home refrigerator-freezers were first sold around 1953 (source). And then: iced lemonade for everyone!


    THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food

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