Along the mid-Atlantic coast every summer we have bouts of beastly weather when both the temperature and humidity stay in the mid to high 90 degrees F for days, sometimes weeks. (Right now it’s 100 degrees!) Stepping outside into the heat is like being blasted when you’re baking and open the oven door. It almost takes your breath away! Even the nights during our heat waves stay stifling–often they only “cool off” to the high 80 degrees F. Recently, I started fighting back with quick pitchers of easy lavender lemonade or lavender limeade. They are so good, quick, and refreshing and have been such a hit with my family I wanted to share my quickie recipe with you.
The pics here show the simple yet wonderful lavender-enhanced pink lemonade and, at right, lavender limeade I made while looking after my grandchildren. (The enticing water scene in the background in the pic at the top is the Severn river, several hundred feet below down a steep cliff.) I was too busy spending time enjoying the kids to squeeze a lot of citrus, but I really like the taste of fresh lemon and lime, so I bought some cans of good-quality frozen lemonade and limeade concentrates and jazzed them up by tossing in some fresh lemon and lime slices. The freezer really does keep the frozen juices tasting much brighter, zestier and closer to fresh-squeezed than bottled. And note that the rosy color of the pink lemonade in the brand I used comes from grapes, not artificial dyes! (Check labels to be sure.)
It turns out that lavender grows very well on the banks of the Severn, so the patch I planted in my son’s back yard (at left) did much better than the ones I grew in my own yard. Since it turns out that lavender is also an incredibly tasty addition to all kinds of citrus fruits, I felt compelled to walk out to the garden and harvest some of my crop to enhance my lemonades and limeades. The results were terrific!
With this heat, I’m going to go make a cool-me-off pitcher right now!
Quickie Fresh Tasting Lavender Lemonade or Limeade
Combine a 12-ounce can of still-frozen lemon-or limeade concentrate and cans of water as directed to make a pitcherful. Add ice as desired. On a saucer and using a fork thoroughly mash 3 or 4 chopped fresh lavender spikes (the bloom heads) with 1 tablespoon of water until it is green. (Alternatively, if you have only dried lavender buds, microwave them in a 1- cup measure with 1/4 cup water until almost boiling, then let steep 5 minutes.) Strain the infused water through a sieve into the pitcher. Add more lavender sprigs to the pitcher and garnish servings with lavender spikes (on their stems) if you have them. Makes about 6 generous servings.
Another super-cooling recipe for the grownups at your house, minted mojitos, is here.
Or for a very unusual and beautiful citrus drink, check out my violet lemonade here.