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Cooking Tips

Break Out Your Potato Masher for the Best Lemonade 

Mashing never felt so refreshing.
By Published July 1, 2022

Want to be the hero of your next picnic? Bring homemade lemonade. Yes, some store-bought lemonades can be good, but many have artificial flavors and preservatives. And if you take the time to make it yourself, you can get an ultrabright and tangy lemonade that is complex with just a touch of bitterness. Homemade lemonade can have dimensions of freshness that you just can’t get in a jug. The juice is worth the squeeze; I promise. 

That said, if you just combine sugar and lemon juice, the mixture can be a little grainy from the undissolved sugar. And it can be one-dimensional. 

You may think I’ve spent too much time in the sun when I say this, but the solution is in your kitchen drawer. I’m talking about a potato masher. 

Bartenders mash or muddle herbs or fruit with sugar to extract the most flavor from those ingredients and make flavorful cocktails. Taking a cue from them, we developed this recipe by mashing lemon slices with sugar. Doing this extracts the oils from the zest to provide depth of flavor to the drink.

It’s really simple to do. Start with selecting the right lemons. Choose large ones that give to gentle pressure; hard lemons have thicker skin and yield less juice. Lemons are commonly waxed to prevent moisture loss, increase shelf life, and protect from bruising during shipping. Scrub them with a vegetable brush under running water to remove the wax, or buy organic lemons for an easier option. 

Then thinly slice one of those lemons and combine it with sugar in a large bowl. Use your potato masher to mash the sugar and lemon slices until the sugar is completely wet, which will take about a minute of arm work. This means the lemon juice and the oils from the zest are moistening the sugar. Then stir in water and more lemon juice.

Don’t worry about the seeds in the mash because the next step is to strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any solids. Add in slices from another lemon to the now-strained lemonade to make it look extra-picnic-ready. And chill it for an hour before serving. 

Once you try this, you’ll want to try other flavors, and we already have some ideas lined up for you.

A strawberry-lime version is a nod to margaritas (yes, it does taste good if you choose to add a splash of tequila). 

Raspberries’ sweet and tart flavor pair well with the tanginess of lemonade.

If you’re more into the zen vibes this summer, try a cucumber-mint version that tastes like a day at the spa. 

Or if you’re lucky enough to have some extra watermelon lying around, mash it into the lemon mixture for an ultrasummery drink.

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.