On a hot summer's day there is nothing as refreshing as a cold glass of lemonade. It isn't just the drink itself that promises to quench our thirst. The bright color and tart aroma, delight our senses. The clink of the ice in the glass promises our ear that we will be refreshed. The cool damp of the sweating glass is invigorating.
A glass of lemonade made from fresh squeezed lemons is one of summer's simple pleasures. I recommend it highly! If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, or just want to try something new, how about adding an infusion of lavender to this refreshing summer pleaser?
Lavender is plentiful this time of year. It's color and fragrance are charming. Yet cooking with it still seems to be a novelty to most folks. In fact, in my view, it is the surprise of the lavender that makes this drink particularly inviting. Not only is the taste somewhat unusual and quite refreshing but the lavender adds an enchanting spark of color to an otherwise ordinary lemonade. At first, as you prepare the lavender infusion, it is pale and unimpressive but, when you add the lemon juice and stir, the color that blooms is delightful.
Make sure the lavender you use is a culinary variety and that it has not been sprayed with any harmful chemicals. I bought Hidcote lavender, which has a nice flavor and is particularly recommended for imparting color to an infusion, from Lacamas Lavender Farm at the Camas Farmers' Market. If the lavender you are buying is not clearly marked ask questions. Vendors are usually more than happy to share their knowledge and advice.
1 cup sugar
5 cups water, divided
1/4 cup fresh, or 1 tablespoon dried, lavender blooms stripped from stems
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
Lavender sprigs and lemon slices for garnish
Place the sugar and 2 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add the lavender, cover, and remove from heat. Let the mixture stand for at least 20 minutes and up to several hours.
Strain the mixture discarding the lavender blossoms. Pour it into a glass pitcher. Add the lemon juice and another 2 1/2 cups of water. Stir well and serve in pretty glasses over ice.
Relax and enjoy!