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ATK Kids

For the Lemoniest Lemonade, Break Out the Potato Masher

One extra step can make a big difference in flavor.
By Published May 27, 2022

I’ve had many disappointing cups of lemonade in my time—usually because they tasted too much like water and not nearly enough like lemon. 

We have an unexpected solution.

Cook’s Illustrated figured out a way to boost the fresh lemon flavor of lemonade: Slice up one lemon, rind and all, and break out the potato masher. Use the masher to thoroughly muddle half of the lemon slices with sugar (the remaining slices get tossed right in the pitcher for serving).

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This muddling process extracts flavorful oils in the lemon peel, which punches up the lemon flavor. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice and water, and you’re left with a sweet, tart, refreshing lemonade that’s even better than the average. Between all the mashing and juicing, kids are sure to love making it, too, which is why ATK Kids adapted the recipe for their New York Times best-selling cookbook, The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs.  

Make sure to check out the ATK Kids site for mouthwatering flavor variations to make all summer long (watermelon lemonade! limeade!), and find the classic recipe below. The lemonade will keep all Memorial Day weekend—although I doubt it will last that long.

How to Make the Lemoniest Lemonade

  1. Cut 1 lemon in half lengthwise (the long way) through both ends. Lay lemon halves, flat side down, on cutting board, then cut each half crosswise (the short way) into thin semicircles; discard ends. Put half of slices in large pitcher and set aside. Put remaining slices in large bowl and add ¾ cup sugar.
  2. Use potato masher to mash sugar and lemon slices together until sugar is completely wet, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. Cut 6 lemons in half crosswise (the short way). Use citrus juicer to squeeze juice into liquid measuring cup. You should have a little over 1 cup. (Save any extra juice for another use.)
  4. Pour lemon juice and 3½ cups cold water into bowl with lemon slices and sugar. Use rubber spatula to stir mixture until sugar is completely dissolved, about 1 minute.
  5. Set fine-­mesh strainer over pitcher. Carefully pour mixture through strainer. Use rubber spatula to press on lemons to get out as much juice as possible. Discard lemon slices in strainer. Serve.

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