Big Bucket o’ Lemonade

Bagoflemons.jpgOnce a week, I volunteer at Project Angel Food as a kitchen helper.  Very rewarding, good fun, and an important community service, the organization cooks, packs and delivers meals every day to homebound, terminally ill clients.  Sometimes as many as 1700 of them, at no cost to the client.  That, alone, is pretty heartwarming.

As a welcomed thank-you to volunteers and staff, they treat us to free lunch, which is often a culinary extravaganza.  The chefs get pretty excited making magic from leftovers and hearty scratch cooking from minimal ingredients.  But with budgets getting tighter, changes were required and one perk that went away was homemade lemonade.  So, shhhh, Volunteer Mary brought in a bag of lemons last week and HOORAY, lemonade happened.

Homes in my neighborhood are a half-century old at minimum, and many have well established citrus trees, so I put out an email alert seeking lemons for this vital “cause” (read: yummy fresh beverage at lunchtime).

Bags showed up on my doorstep, thank you neighbors – enough for multiple lunches, believe me!

And today, I challenged Chef Juan to give me precise measurements to document how he makes lip-smackin’ homemade lemonade by the bucket load.   He typically does it by sight and sip, so he fretted about his quantities (Volunteer Mary and I got a laugh out of that one).   Here it is, and it was deeee-lish:

Bucket O’ Homemade Lemonade

  • 20-25 fresh lemons
  • 6 quarts cold water
  • 5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Ice cubes
  • 6 to 8 Mint leaves or 4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Wash lemons and roll on cutting board to loosen up juice, then cut in half (or quarters, if especially large).  Into a 5 gallon container, squeeze lemons thru a sieve to catch seeds.  Toss in a few used rinds for character.  Add water.  Stir in 4 cups of sugar and taste for desired sweetness.  If too tart, add additional 1 cup sugar.  Stir in 1 tsp. salt.  (If you overdid the sweetness, add another tsp. salt).  Toss in crushed mint leaves (or rosemary sprigs cut into 2-inch pieces) and add ice to make 12 quarts of lemonade.   Makes 48 servings.

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