Fresh Florida-Style Limeade
I've noticed somewhat of a heightened interest in 'proper' lemonade recently. When I say proper, I mean: made with actual lemons, cloudy and maybe a few cheeky bits of lemon pulp knocking about in there. You'll find cans of Sanpellegrino lemonades in almost every shop chiller in the UK now. Once you've tried a proper lemonade, you'll know it's not even comparable to the 2L, cheap, colourless kind you buy in supermarkets. This kind of drink is also very easy to make. Children can be entrusted to make it. It's inexpensive to make and has a charming innocence about it, which is worth remembering when you discover just how amazing it tastes.
Now I've just came back from a trip to the US. I visited sunny Key West in Florida, the home of the Key Lime Pie and the thrills of a humid, tropical climate. It gets extremely humid in Florida, and I spent most of the day on foot, so took every excuse to 'check my map' with a ice-cold drink. On one stop, I visited a bakery in Key West for a slice of pie, and they also happened to sell fresh limeade alongside. Intriguing! It wasn't like the cheap stuff we had as kids, which was radioactive green and didn't really taste like lime at all. Not this one. It had a gently-glowing green hue, a great balance of sweet and sharp and the aroma was very special, like limes-multiplied-by-10.
It was made with key limes, a kind of lime which is native to Central and South America. The flavour is different to normal limes, known as Persian limes. Key limes are far more aromatic, slightly more sour and a tickle-touch more bitter. The aroma is probably their best quality I think - a party in the nostrils and on the tongue.
I've made it a few times since returning home as we're experiencing a massive heatwave in the UK right now - it's a babe of a drink yet so simple. Key limes are very hard to find in the UK, but I found a way to make a similar kind of sweet, tangy, aromatic drink using normal, Persian limes, which I will show you. So get some ice in, dig your biggest pitcher out and invite some light company over to enjoy it.
FLORIDA-STYLE FRESH LIMEADE
- 7/8 Limes (the paler green, the better)
- 1 Lemon
- 1.5 litres of mineral or spring water
- 3-4 tablespoons caster sugar (to taste)
- Take a big pitcher, something with around a 2-litre capacity. Take one of the limes and zest about half of it into the pitcher - any more than half and the drink can taste a little bitter. Do this with the lemon too; zest about half of it in. Now take a knife and cut the lime into as many thin slices as you can get. Place the slices - I like to half them into little half-moons - into the pitcher. This is for decoration, and also infuses the drink with some of the natural oils in the lime zest.
- TAKE the remaining lemon and the 6/7 limes and give them a good, hard juicing into a jug. If you don't have a reamer or a citrus juicer, use a teaspoon to press into the fruit and squeeze out as much juice as you can. If they're a little resistant, you can microwave them for a few seconds to give up their juice. You should aim for around 200ml of lime juice. This has sometimes been achieved with just 5 limes - it varies - but I've never used more than 7 limes for this.
- Tip the juice into the pitcher with the lime slices. Add in 1.5 litres of water. Bottled water is great for this, not that I have anything against tap water. Mineral or Spring water simply has a clearer taste than most tap water, depending on where you live.
- Add in some caster sugar. I find 3/4 tablespoons (40-60g) to be a good baseline. It's very much to taste how much sweetness you want. You do need some sweetness in this drink, otherwise it will be too sharp and acidic and not very pleasant to drink.
- Serve this drink over ice. I never put ice in the actual pitcher. I've found if you're drinking it with people you can be chatting away while the drink is getting weaker and weaker as the ice melts. So I put ice in people's glasses and it keep the mother-drink good and strong!