I imagine that many of us have sweet memories from days gone by of making lemonade in the kitchen with our parents or grandparents. Even if you grew up in a "from concentrate" or "bottled beverage" family, there's a good chance you've given it a whirl as an adult. But have you ever tried making whole-lemon lemonade? As in, blending a whole lemon, ice, and sugar? We did — here's how it went.
Last week I saw this fun, simple lemonade-making technique on PureWow over on Kitchn's Facebook page. Not surprisingly, it received mixed reviews. Folks were confused why anyone would want to blend the whole lemon. Some said it worked, and some said it was horrible. With such conflicting reviews, I knew I had to test it out myself.
If this technique had any chance of working and saving my wrists from squeezing lemons or using a reamer, then I was set to swear off traditional lemonade altogether — but I wasn't holding my breath.
The process on PureWow seemed simple enough: Quarter a lemon; remove the central column of white tissue and any visible seeds; and then toss it in a blender with a handful of ice, a few tablespoons of sugar, and two cups of water. Yes, skin and all — just toss it in and blend for several minutes.
Get the recipe: Ready to Have Your Mind Blown? Meet Blender Lemonade
I assumed that the mixed results people had with the recipe had something to do with the blender they were using. The one pictured in the original post is a well-rated ice-crushing Oyster, but I figured that if anything was going to get the job done it would be my Blendtec, and it didn't disappoint. That said, the results were quite curious!
My First Attempt at Making Blender Lemonade
For my first attempt, I made the recipe exactly as is. I went with organic lemons and raw cane sugar. I was tempted to go out on a limb and use Meyer lemons, but I assumed that most people would make this with just plain lemons found at the grocery store. Unless you live in an area where citrus is abundant, most folks are probably only picking up Meyer lemons for specific dishes and won't have too many extras hanging out.
I went ahead and cut off the extraordinarily thick end pieces (as I didn't see them lending any love) and tossed in the sugar, ice, and water. Ready? Should I have been nervous? I wanted it to be a success! What if this was the moment my life forever changed?
The original recipe mentions that it needs to blend for at least a minute, so I let it go for 90 seconds for good measure. The texture looked cloudy and the resulting bubbles on top were shiny and textured. I could see a few bits of stuff (for lack of a better culinary term) floating around as the mixture settled. Would the mixture be too chunky? Feel weird on my tongue? Pithy? Be the most amazing beverage that we've all been missing out on?
I poured myself a glass and gave it a try. (Okay, that's a lie. I drank it straight from the pitcher first. Don't judge! You'd do the same.) The texture wasn't what I was expecting. Based on its opacity, or lack thereof, I assumed it would have been full of fibrous bits, but instead it was just a good viscous liquid.
The taste (drumroll, please)? Is there a word like umami, but for when things are bitter and sour both at the same time? This lemonade tasted like bitter melon. My heart sank.
No, this is not a mind-blowing tip.
My Second Attempt at Making Blender Lemonade
Instead of taking defeat lightly, I wanted to see if there was a way to alter the recipe to give it the same ease of preparation without the same funky taste. I tossed in a few extra tablespoons of sugar and blended again. Now I had the same taste as before, but with a sugar-laden aftertaste. The extra blend time did, however, make the bubbles and foam less pithy.
My Third Attempt at Making Blender Lemonade
Not willing to give up just yet, I had one more trick up my sleeve: True Lemon. If you've never used the product, it can be a handy box to have in your pantry. It works in everything from dry rubs to marinades to baked goods. So I tossed in a full package to the mixture (which is now one lemon, four tablespoons of sugar, a handful of ice, two cups of water and one True Lemon package). Blend for another 30 seconds.
Result: Success! The added lemon oil and crystallized lemon juice from the True Lemon were enough to push that bitterness back and make a good, tangy lemonade with that freshly squeezed taste.
Buy it on Amazon: True Lemon Bulk Pack, 500 Count, $22
We drank the entire blender full of lemonade, and I didn't have any issue with pith or seeds. If you were worried about this, however, I'd recommend straining the drink.
The big question is, does this quick lemonade hack make things easier in the kitchen? And is it just as delicious? Possibly. I think it would be perfect for summer add-ins. Maybe you're spiking it, or maybe you're just adding fresh mint from the garden or leftover fruit from the fridge — either way, this is a great way to cut to the chase without dirtying a juicer or reaming lemon after lemon. Just make sure to adjust the sugar and True Lemon ratio, otherwise it'll leave you with puckered duck lips.