I remember growing up in the UK in the 70s, before fizzy juice (pop, soda, etc) become popular, that my grandmother used to make homemade lemonade for us to drink in the summer holidays. Nowadays it has all just about been forgotten about with the availability of commercial sodas, and to some extent fruit squash. I have tried to re-create my grandmother’s home-made lemonade before, but something was always missing. My memories were of a refreshing, sweet and very ‘lemony’ drink. It wasn’t until recently when I managed to track down a recipe book that I knew everyone in Scotland had at one time, The SWRI (Scottish Women’s Rural Institute) Jubilee Cookery Book, that I found the missing ingredient, Cream of Tartar.
Cream of Tartar, or Potassium bitartrate is a derivative salt of tartaric acid. In the past when more people did their own baking it was a common ingredient to be found in most kitchen cupboards and it was used for such things as stabilizing egg whites, preventing syrups from crystallising and it is an ingredient baking powder to help activate it. Since it is acidic, I think this must have given a boost to the ‘lemoniness’ of my grandmother’s lemonade. I also think it must help to extract the juice from the lemons.
Though home-made lemonade has all but been forgotten about in the UK, it stills seems as though it is a popular drink in the US during the summer, especially on Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labour Day holidays.
My Grandmother’s Homemade Lemonade
- 1lb (450g) of granulated sugar
- 1oz (30g) of cream of tartar
- 4 large lemons, thinly sliced
- 7pints (~3.5 litres) of fresh water
Boil the water and add it to the sliced lemons. Stir in the cream of tartar and chill in the refrigerator for a day before serving.