It’s an age-old adage – When life gives you lemons…Make Lemonade!
A few days ago, I was blessed with a bounty of lemons from one of my husband’s co-workers. Since I’m not a huge fan of lemons in general (I know, that’s practically un-American, right?), I was tasked to find something to do with them. I mean, after all, I am a child of a child of a child of the Depression. We just don’t waste around here.
I scoured the internet and discovered a recipe for canning lemonade concentrate. Since I enjoy canning AND had a bounty of lemons, I decided to give it a shot. What could be better to conjure up the feeling of basking in the warm Summer sun in the middle of Winter, than a refreshing sip of Summer-time in a glass?
You don’t have to can this recipe. You can make it and store it in the refrigerator for a few days until you use it up, or you can put it in jars or plastic containers and freeze it (just make sure you leave enough room for the concentrate to expand).
Ok, I’ll stop yammering now and get to the recipe, because I know you’re biting at the bit to make some of this for yourself.
The most time-consuming part of the whole ordeal is juicing the lemons. Now, if you’re lucky like me, you will not have to look too hard to find a couple of idle teenagers in your house. If that’s the case, use them. I did! Haha. It made the prep work amazingly simple for me. 🙂
(By the way, save your lemon peels and scraps, I have another post HERE for using them to make an incredible household cleaner.)
Once you’ve rendered all the juice from the lemons, you’re ready to start. You’ll need:
4 cups of fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 cups cane sugar (or 2 cups honey)
Approximately 3 pint-sized canning jars or 6 – 8 oz. canning jars
Add the lemon juice and sweetener of your choice (I used organic cane sugar) to a large non-reactive pot. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved watching the temperature carefully. You want to get this mixture to 190◦ F. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Once your mixture is up to temperature, remove from heat and skim the foam if necessary.
Note: If you’re not going to can this concentrate, that’s it! Just pour the cooled liquid into a container and store in the fridge. Easy peasy, right? If you are going to can it, keep your concentrate hot and let’s keep going 🙂
I’m using Tattler Re-usable canning lids in this project. They require a bit different procedure than the 2-piece metal lids you’re probably used to. Please follow these directions carefully to ensure a good seal and no breakage. Below is a quick pictorial on how to use these lids – just click on the picture to enlarge it if you can’t see the instructions.
Set clean, pint jars on a rack set on the bottom of your canner (or any heavy bottomed stock pot deep enough to cover jars with water by at least 1″). Fill the pot with hot tap water until the jars are completely submerged. Set the burner at medium heat to bring the water to a simmer until you are ready to fill the jars. Place your lids and rubber rings in another small pot and set on a small burner over low heat (you don’t want to boil these, just get them good and hot to ensure a proper seal).
Remove jars from hot water with a jar lifter and set on a clean dish towel (do not set these jars directly onto a cold countertop – they will break). Pour the hot lemonade concentrate into the hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.
Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a damp paper towel, and fit them with lids and rubber rings. You will then secure the lids with a metal band tightened ONLY fingertip tight (that is VERY important – if you make it too tight, air cannot escape during processing and could cause breakage).
Gently place the jars back into the simmering water (using the jar lifter) making sure not to bang them against each other or the side of the pot. Make sure that the water is still covering the jars by at least one inch, if not, you will need to add more hot water to ensure that the jars stay submerged during processing.
Once your jars are submerged, turn up the heat and bring the water to a full rolling boil. It’s important that you don’t start the timer until you have a vigorous boil. Once the water is boiling rapidly, set the timer for 15 minutes (if you live above 1000 ft in elevation, your processing time will be increased – check with your local extension office).
After your processing time has elapsed, remove the jars from the boiling water and set on a draft-free counter on top of a thick towel. Do NOT set the hot jars on your countertop. Thermal shock (hot jars on cold counter-top) could cause your jars to break and waste all of your hard work. Immediately (using a dish towel in each hand) screw metal bands down onto jars as tightly as you can (this step is not recommended if you are using conventional 2-pc metal canning lids). Cover with a kitchen towel and let set until completely cooled, preferably 24 hours.
Once your jars are completely cooled, check the seal by removing the metal band and lifting gently on the lid itself. If it lifts the jar, you have a good seal. Wipe down jars and lids with a damp cloth and store, without the metal band, in a cool, dry area for up to one year.
To reconstitute, I would suggest starting with a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part concentrate. You will need to adjust according to your own personal tastes. In this picture, I made two jars of strawberry lemonade concentrate. I found the recipe for that here. Now go do this! It’s worth it and your family will look upon you with a whole new awe!