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History of Lemonade

When enjoying a tall, refreshing glass of lemonade, you might wonder about the history of lemonade. It's a favorite drink of people all over the word and is popular enough to be commemorated on National Lemonade Day, August 20th.

History of Lemonade

History of Lemons

The lemon, or “citrus limon,” may have originated in northwestern India. It was introduced in Italy around 200 A.D. and was cultivated by the year 700 in Egypt and Iraq. It continued to spread and by the 12th century was widely known and used, being prized for its medicinal value in Egypt and Syria. Lemons started being grown in California and Florida in the 1700s.

History of Lemonade

Egyptians created lemonade more than 1,500 years ago. This popular drink was called “qatarmizat” and was consumed between the 10th and 13th centuries. Toward the end of the 12th century, the physician to the Muslim leader Saladin wrote a treatise on the lemon. In the 14th century, Egyptians drank a wine made from honey, lemons, and dates. Today, lemonade is available in bottles and can be clear, cloudy, or fizzy. Clear is lemon and water, or lemon and carbonated water, made without adding sugar. Cloudy is the traditional drink with water, lemon, and sugar. Fizzy is made with soda, lemon flavor, and sweetener and is considered a sweet carbonated soft drink.

Pink Lemonade

Another chapter in the history of lemonade is pink lemonade. There are two theories as to the invention of pink lemonade. One claim to the classic drink happened at a New Jersey circus in 1873 when a female horse rider’s red tights were hung too close to a vat of lemonade. A strong wind blew part of them into the lemonade and some of the red color bled out. There was no time to make more and pink lemonade became a hit. The other story tells of someone accidentally dropping a cinnamon candy into a vat of lemonade, perhaps at a concession stand. Either way, pink lemonade today is a favorite of many, partly because it is a bit sweeter than other lemonade.

Health Benefits

The history of lemonade would not be complete without mentioning its health benefits. Lemon works as an antiseptic and can prevent disease while cleansing the body of toxins. Lemon aids in digestion, relieving heartburn, bloating, and belching. It also helps the colon work better, which will control diarrhea and constipation. If you suffer from gout, rheumatism, rickets, or tuberculosis, lemon would be beneficial. Lemons can also help you stay healthy in many ways, so add a bit to the water or tea you enjoy every day.

When Life Gives You Lemons

Among knowing other food facts you should also know is that you can take basic lemonade and add many things to it. One easy thing to do is just add fruit, like strawberries, grapes, watermelon, or cherries. Lemonade can also be the base to alcoholic drinks, such as a Tom Collins or a Primm’s Cup. In the United Kingdom, a lemon flavored beer was invented while lemonade with alcohol is simply referred to as hard lemonade.

One challenge to making lemonade is the sugar settling to the bottom. Admittedly, it is hard to dissolve sugar in cool water. That's not a problem with this recipe for perfect and simple lemonade:

  • 1 cup lemon juice (takes about 4-6 lemons)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3-4 cups cold water

The trick is to dissolve the sugar first so the lemonade mixes well. Heat the cup of sugar and the cup of water in a small pan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Put all ingredients into a pitcher and stir, then refrigerate for 30 minutes or more, or you could just add ice. The water and sugar can be adjusted to suit individual tastes.

If you use less water, by a cup or more, you can make a delicious lemon slush. Simply take lemonade and blend with a cup of ice, preferably small cubes. You can get really creative and add fruit or even gin or vodka to the mix. Lemonade, which combines sweet sugar and sour lemons, is very versatile and refreshing year round.