Ah, fresh lemonade. Is there anything more refreshing on a scorching hot summer day? If you have never made homemade lemonade, I promise you that it’s very simple and totally worth the effort. All you need is a simple syrup (which is literally only a warmed mixture of water and sugar), a tiny pinch of salt (which is basically an exclamation point on the other flavors) and a whole bunch of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
And if you want to elevate homemade lemonade with other flavors, it’s a simple twist of ingredients. For my strawberry-rhubarb version, I made two simple syrups, one infused with the bright citrus flavor of organic lemon peel, and the other with two stalks of cut up rhubarb. Then, I pureed fresh organic strawberries with water, strained out the seeds and combined the whole thing in a pitcher with the juice of six lemons.
The result is this beautifully hued summer beverage with tart, sweet and tangy flavors that taste all at once like spring, summer and sunshine. The formula is slightly concentrated, leaving me with options for how to serve it. It’s delicious mixed 1:1 with cold water over ice, or 1:1 with chilled sparkling water, and I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine it would make a great cocktail if shaken with ice and a shot of vodka or blanco tequila. My husband even suggested we blend it with crushed ice for an even more refreshing summer cooler—a slushie.
Here’s how it came together, and I’ll admit that it could have been easier if I had made only one simple syrup rather than two, but there’s a reason it happened that way. I’ll explain in a moment.
So, why two syrups for this recipe? It wasn’t necessary, and next time, I’d make them together in one batch. Truthfully, I made my rhubarb syrup first, and it was intended for some other recipes, but a story in my news feed last week caught my eye and I took a detour toward this pretty, pink lemonade. The story was about the upcoming “Strawberry Moon,” the full moon tomorrow night that has the distinction of also being a supermoon.
Big Moon Summer
Supermoon occurs when the moon is full at the same time it is closet to Earth in its orbit. Nothing is different about the moon itself, of course, but the combination of its full phase and proximity to our planet give it the appearance of being larger and brighter than a typical full moon.
I am fascinated by the moon, which has tremendous influence over all life—from the ocean tides and reproductive cycles of animals to its effects on the human body and even (or, perhaps, especially) our emotions. Nobody understood these things more than the Native Americans, who are responsible for the names given to the full moons each month. They named the moons based on what was in season, or what was happening in nature at the time of each full moon cycle. Various tribes held this moon-naming practice, but the names that are still used today are mostly attributed to the Algonquin tribe, which made its home in the stretch from New England to the Great Lakes.
Strawberry Moon is the first of three supermoons this year. Next will be July’s Buck Moon (named for the time when male deers’ antlers will be in full growth mode, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac). And some sources say that August’s full moon also qualifies for supermoon status. That will be the Sturgeon moon, so named for the abundance of sturgeon fish that historically filled the Great Lakes during late summer. That’s three consecutive supermoons, and I think that’s a natural phenomenon worth celebrating.
Want to see the Strawberry Supermoon? This site will help you find the best time for viewing in your area—Moonrise and Moonset Calculator (timeanddate.com)—but if you don’t want to try to interpret the scientific chart for an exact time, just pour yourself a tall glass of strawberry rhubarb lemonade and head outside for a sky check any time after sunset on Tuesday.
- 2 1/2 cups filtered water
- 1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar (more or less to taste)
- 2 or 3 stalks rhubarb, chopped
- Strips of lemon peel from two organic lemons
- Juice of 6 lemons (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- About 1 cup fresh organic strawberries, trimmed and hulled
- 1 cup water (for pureeing the strawberries)
- Combine filtered water and cane sugar in a large saucepot. Add rhubarb pieces and strips of lemon peel. Heat over medium heat until water comes to a gentle boil, then turn off heat. Stir until sugar fully dissolves. Stir in salt. Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Add strawberries and 1 cup water in the pitcher of a blender or bowl of a food processor. Puree until no visible bits of berry remain. Strain through a mesh strainer over a large pitcher or bowl.
- Add simple syrup and lemon juice to strawberry puree. Stir to blend. Chill overnight.
- To serve, combine equal parts lemonade base and cold (or sparkling) water and pour over ice.