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Cooking

Squeeze, refresh, repeat

Limeade, eight ways.

By Adam Ried
June 26, 2011

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Fresh limeade is every inch the summer heat-beater that fresh lemonade is, and, in fact, it might even have the advantage. First, to my palate at least, limes are just a bit more flowery and exotic than lemons, and second, they’re generally a little cheaper. Their ability to stimulate and refresh the palate doesn’t hurt, either.

Several of these variations lend themselves to some fizz: The basic limeade, as well as the raspberry, ginger, basil, and mint limeades, can be made with sparkling water. The cherry and cucumber versions are a bit too thick and the Brazilian version too creamy for bubbles. It’s also worth noting that these limeades are relatively pulp-free because the syrup is strained. If you like your drink heartier, scrape the pulp from a couple of the muddled lime slices into the pitcher.

Limeade

Makes about 2 quarts

10 medium limes, washed well, halved pole to pole, and halves thinly sliced, plus

1 lime, sliced, for garnish

1 1/3 cups sugar

Salt

6 cups cold filtered or

spring water

Ice, for serving, optional

In a medium nonreactive bowl, toss the lime slices, sugar, and a tiny pinch of salt and set aside to soften, about 25 minutes. With a muddler, masher, or wooden spoon, muddle the limes until sugar dissolves and juice is thickened to a syrup, about 2 minutes. Set a strainer over a nonreactive bowl, pour in half of the lime slices and syrup, and press to release as much liquid as possible; discard the solids and repeat with the remaining lime slices (you should have about 2 cups of lime syrup). Add the water and stir to dissolve all the sugar. Transfer the limeade to a 2-quart or larger serving pitcher and chill well. Stir before serving, over ice, if desired, garnishing each glass with a lime slice.
Variations

Raspberry Limeade

Follow the recipe for Limeade, stirring 1½ cups fresh or thawed frozen raspberries in with the sliced limes and sugar. (For a stronger raspberry flavor, add another ½ to 1 cup berries.)
Ginger Limeade

Follow the recipe for Limeade, stirring 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger in with the sliced limes and sugar. (For a spicier flavor, add another tablespoon of grated ginger.)
Basil Limeade

Follow the recipe for Limeade, stirring 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves in with the sliced limes and sugar. Garnish each glass with a basil leaf.
Mint Limeade

Follow the recipe for Limeade, stirring 4 cups packed mint leaves in with the sliced limes and sugar. Garnish each glass with a mint leaf or sprig.
Cherry Limeade

Neither frozen nor jarred cherries deliver the flavor of fresh fruit in this recipe. Pitting fresh cherries is less tedious than you might expect, though – it took me only about 15 minutes with a good pitter.

Follow the recipe for Limeade, making the changes in steps 2 and 3 below.

1) Prepare the lime syrup as directed.

2) Working in batches as necessary, in a blender puree 1½ pounds (about 6 cups) fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted, with 2 cups of filtered or spring water. Strain the cherry puree, working it to release as much liquid as possible (you should have about 5 cups); discard the solids.

3) Add the strained cherry liquid and 1 cup of filtered or spring water to the lime syrup and proceed with the recipe.
Cucumber Limeade

Follow the recipe for Limeade, making the changes in steps 2 and 3 below.

1) Prepare the lime syrup as directed.

2) Working in batches as necessary, in a blender puree 3 large or 4 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped, with 2 cups of filtered or spring water. Strain the cucumber puree, working it to release as much liquid as possible (you should have about 4 cups); discard the solids.

3) Add the strained cucumber liquid and 2 cups of filtered or spring water to the lime syrup and proceed with the recipe.
Brazilian Lemonade

Brazilian lemons are much like our limes (that’s why this is in a limeade column). Many recipes puree whole limes, pith and all, in a blender, but I found that makes the drink too bitter. This version is sweeter and, served straight out of the blender, has a pleasant frothiness. A friend says it’s like liquid Key lime pie.

Follow the recipe for Limeade, making the following changes:

1) Prepare the lime syrup as directed, reducing the amount of sugar to 1 cup.

2) Working in batches as necessary, in a blender blend the lime syrup, ½ cup sweetened condensed milk, and 5½ cups water until uniform and frothy. Proceed with the recipe. (Re-blend before serving, if desired.)

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.