Feeling hot? Here’s how to make perfect lemonade in four easy steps

JP McMahon shares a simple recipe for a bitter-sweet thirst-quencher

Homemade lemonade: for a twist, add some fennel, as fennel and lemon is a really good combination. Photograph: iStock/Getty

Homemade lemonade: for a twist, add some fennel, as fennel and lemon is a really good combination. Photograph: iStock/Getty

 

I’m always amazed how children seem to eat the vegetables they grow themselves but never eat the ones we cook for them. We’ve been growing some peas out our back. Never in a million years would my daughter Heather eat a pea from a pot, but picked fresh from the pod, she doesn’t hesitate to try the taste. Perhaps it’s a fascination with nature. 

All the herbs and flowers in the garden are at full bloom and she tries them all. This is not to say she likes everything. The chive flowers are too strong for her, but the fennel and lemon balm go down well.

Last week, in the hot weather, we decided to make lemonade. I used to make this when I worked in the Crawford Gallery cafe during my student days in UCC.

To make the lemonade:

1 Dissolve 400g of sugar in 1.6 litres of water. Add the zest of three lemons. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat.

2 Add a handful of lemon balm, if desired, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

3 When the liquid is cool, remove the herbs and lemon zest and add 300ml of lemon juice. This is about 6-8 lemons, depending on size. Taste the lemonade and make sure the balance between sweet and sour is right for you.

4 Bottle the lemonade and keep it in the fridge. It’s best to leave it a day or two before you drink it, as I think it definitely gets better with a little time.

You can add any other herbs to the lemonade. I find fennel and lemon is a really good combination. The anise quality of the fennel sits beautifully beside the zesty lemonade. 

The combination of lemon and fennel also works wonderfully with fish. A whole sea bream baked with lemon and fennel is a great dish to do for a summer barbecue. A few lemon wedges, fennel fronds, some white wine and sea salt is all you need. Wrap the lot in parchment, and bake at 180 for 15 minutes. Serve with a crisp green salad with red onions and hazelnuts. 

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