Lemonade is one of the most refreshing drinks, but most conventional brands contain artificial sweeteners, and have little lemon in them. Here are some nice homemade recipes, which are also plastic-free.Use real sugar over pet-toxic sweeteners like xylitol or artificial sweeteners (dodgy!) We also list some good zero waste brands, at the end of the post.
Ginger Lemonade (Crowded Kitchen, above) is a quarter of the price of a ‘cleansing lemon juice’ that you can buy at an organic grocery store. This is healthy and packs a huge dose of vitamin C (avoid ginger for pregnancy or history of miscarriage, as it can induce early labour by contracting the uterus).
Lemonade may seem like the original American drink, but in fact its history is from Asia. The Egyptians too have been enjoying homemade lemonade for around 1000 years. And in the Middle East, it is still taken with mint. In the US, many children begin their first businesses, by having a ‘lemonade stand’ to sell the popular beverage to local people in the community. Although in some states, it’s now illegal to have one, due to health and safety laws. Another time we often hear about lemonade is due to the famous quote ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. We prefer the quote by Ron White:
I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade .. and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka – and have a party.
Blackberry Basil Lemonade (Rainbow Plant Life) combines basil with fresh blackberries, for a maple-sweetened drink, ideal for hot summer days. And such a pretty hue too. The pepper from the basil turns this into a ‘grown-up lemonade’. Blackberries can be foraged for free from local hedgerows. Leave some for birds, insects and wildlife, they like them too! Be careful as they are likely to stain hands, and you don’t want to be wearing plastic gloves near natural areas, in case you dropped one. The best ones grow in sunlight (they don’t ripen after picking), and will come off easily. Gently rinse and strain outside to let any insects escape, then keep them them (unwashed) in the fridge and use up quickly.
Lemonade Milkshake (The Vegan 8) offers a creamier version of the traditional drink. This bursts with fresh lemons, but is still not too sweet.
Turmeric Lemonade (The Awesome Green) is a tummy-friendly recipe for digestive relief, by a holistic foods expert. This Indian spice is often used in vegan cuisine as it makes things yellow (not just lemonade, but vegan scrambled eggs too!)
Berry Bourbon Lemonade Pitcher Cocktail (Crowded Kitchen) is ideal for a party. Made with blackberries, raspberries, lemon, vegan bourbon and sparkling water. Serve at your next summer vegan BBQ.
Blackberry Lemonade Mojito (Short Girl, Tall Order) is a refreshing cocktail, made with muddles blackberries and mint, mixed with lemonade, sparkling soda water and rum.
Where to Buy Natural Lemonade
Avoid sodas sweetened with pet-toxic xylitol: lethal if ingested (even in gum, toothpaste or muffin crumbs). Never buy cans wrapped with plastic rings, these injure wildlife – if you see any discarded, rip up the holes and dispose of in the nearest secure bin.
Here are more natural brands, made with water, real lemons and cane sugar. They are also owned by local artisan companies, to buy in farm shops or cafes, or just in bulk and keep a few in the fridge, for when you need a fizzy iced lemonade, for a hot day
- Square Root Lemonade is a simple blend of carbonated water, lemon juice and sugar; the original Italian Victorian recipe. It also uses Sicilian lemons: enjoy on a balmy evening, watching Inspector Montalbano.
- Fentimans Victorian Lemonade (Northumberland) is botanically brewed to a 100-year old recipe, with each bottle containing the juice of 1.5 lemons (rose lemonade is made with Bulgarian rose oil).
- Whole Earth Sparkling Lemonade is sold in a can, made from concentrated lemon juice, apple juice and agave. Find this in most indie health stores and farm shop.
Lovely Drinks Garden Lemonade is a refreshing fizz made with Silician lemons, lime juice and English lavender extract. Enjoy alone or add vodka and a sprig of rosemary, for an aromatic sundowner. Also try their Raspberry Lemonade made with English berries and more Sicilian lemons.
Lemonades to Help Others
Lemonaid & Charitea is a unique company that produces organic soft drinks made with real ingredients (real juice, sparkling water and cane sugar). It pays higher prices for raw ingredients, to empower farmers and workers, to combat poverty. You can buy the bottles separate or as mixed packs, and for each bottle, a 5p donation is made to a fund that helps social development projects.