When you’re given lemons – make lemonade

“His was a sound mind in an unsound body. He proved the eternal paradox of things. He cashed in on his disabilities. He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade-stand.”

Elbert Hubbard, The Fra: A Journal of Affirmation– the obituary of a dwarf actor called Marshall Wilder

A friend of mine came back from Greece with a bag of fresh lemons from his garden. I buried my head amongst the yellow orbs (many were fattened to roundness) and breathed in the thick, tart, fragrant scent…. I was almost back in his warm, sunny Mediterranean garden.

But there was so much fruit that I knew that no matter how many tangy dressings, and lemon drizzle cakes I made, lemons would remain. If life gives you lemons…. you make lemonade.

Which lemons to use?

I was given ‘standard’ lemons – well, their freshness meant that in my view they were anything but standard. But if you use Meyer lemons (a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange), or Amalfi lemons, which are sweeter, you may need less sugar.

They must be organic, wax-free

Because you use the whole lemon, peel, pith, seeds and all, you want unwaxed, organic ones free of pesticides etc.

If you have any mavericks, weigh them

Included in my bag was one real whopper of a lemon – it weighed about twice each of its brethren. So if you have a lemon which is much larger or smaller than the norm, weigh them – the average weight of a lemon is about 100g.

how to make lemonade
If you have any unusual sized lemons it’s easier to weigh them. The big fella in the front was twice the size of his brothers….

Use your magimix, not a stick blender

I make it in my magimix (blender) which I usually hate using as I have to get it out of the cupboard, put together all the bits, wash it up etc etc but if you use the beaker which comes with a stick blender it won’t be big enough, and if you try to use a saucepan you may end up with a slightly metallic taste (due to the acid in the lemons reacting with the metal of the saucepan – yes, I know it shouldn’t, but….). If you use a mixing bowl the lemons won’t be properly contained in a confined space and it will take longer.

What to do with the remaining pulp if you are super thrifty

If you are being super-thrifty you could use some of the remaining lemon pulp in Claire Walker’s really exceptional whole lemon cake.

Ideas for spicing up your lemonade

You can make all kinds of interesting mocktails with lemonade, or you can flavour the lemonade by infusing it with other ingredients – here are a few suggestions:

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender and thyme
  • Honey, ginger and heat (a sort of non-alcoholic hot toddy)
  • Or apple, mint, ginger and lime
  • Or pineapple, mint and ginger
  • Strawberry and thyme
  • Peaches or peach juice
  • Cucumber and mint
  • Or, to make it rather Lebanese, add some pomegranate juice

Of course, you can also make some wonderful cocktails with lemonade – see Lemonade and Hooch.

Bear in mind, this fresh lemonade is flat – it’s not so good where you would use the fizzy bought stuff – in shandy or Pimm’s for example.

If you still have lemons left over… you can use them for all kinds of non-culinary things – see the Busy Bee blog for a list which includes some very surprising uses!

Recipe for making lemonade

Makes approximately 3 litres – enough for about eight thirsty people


  • 6 unwaxed lemons (total weight 600g/1 lb 5 oz – the average weight of a lemon is about 100g)
  • 300g/11 oz/1½ cups caster sugar – and you may need more
  • 2 litres/8½ cups water


  1. Cut the lemons into smallish chunks and put into your blender.
  2. Add the sugar.
  3. Add about a third of the water.
  4. Blitz until you have produced a sort of rough pulp.
  5. Put the pulp into a sieve over a large wide-lipped jug.
  6. Pour the rest of the water over the jug.
  7. Squish down the pulp in the sieve using a spoon to get as much of the liquid as you can through.
  8. Taste – if it needs a bit more sugar add it in.
  9. Serve – perhaps with a couple of sprigs of mint, some ice cubes and some slices of lime.
how to make lemonade
Cut the lemons into smallish chunks.

Music to listen to while you make your lemonade

Below you can listen to Beyoncé reciting a sort of poem about grandmothers, lemonade, and healing a broken heart; and then singing All Night from her album Lemonade.

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