Serves 6

When shopping for lemons for lemonade, buy large lemons that feel heavy and are squeezable. As soon as I bring them home, I soak the lemons in a solution of white vinegar and water to minimize any molding or rotting. Before you juice them, soak the lemons in warm water or microwave them for 10 seconds. The heat relaxes the juice pouches and makes it easier to extract the most juice from each lemon. Then, before you cut them in half, roll the lemons on the counter with your palm, exerting some pressure. This also helps get the juices flowing.

If you are concerned that the lemonade will be too sweet, start with ½ cup or ¾ cup of the sugar syrup, then taste before adding more.

1 cup warm tap water

1 cup sugar

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)

3 cups cold water

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Fresh mint leaves (optional)

1. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stir together the warm water and sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Cook for two minutes, then set aside off the heat to cool.

2. Once the syrup is cool, pour it into a 2-quart pitcher. Add the lemon juice and cold water, then stir well. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh mint. Serve over ice.

STRAWBERRY LEMONADE: Purée 2 cups of cleaned and hulled fresh strawberries in a juicer or blender. If using a blender, press the purée through a mesh strainer to remove any large pieces of pulp. Add the strawberry purée to the lemonade recipe above, but reduce the cold water to 2 cups.

LEMON DROP COCKTAIL: From the recipe above, mix the lemon juice and simple syrup with 2 cups of cold water. Add 1 cup of lemon-flavored or other vodka and 1
/
3 cup of orange liqueur. Mix well. Frost the glasses with a sugar rim and pour over crushed ice. Add a slice of lemon for garnish.

— Elizabeth Karmel, The Associated Press