Vanilla Bean Lemonade
By Garrett McCord, author of Vanilla Garlic
When lemons come into season in the middle of winter I start to go a bit lemonade crazy. Yes, it may still be chilly outside and the car windshield may still require a scraping every morning, but I can never say no to a tall glass of gourmet lemonade. Enjoyed in front of a fire with a bowl of aveglemono soup, a favorite book you've read five times before, or a slice of almond cake lemonade always makes life a bit more enjoyable and lets you forget the world for a few moments.
I usually end up using the more common Eureka lemons for my lemonade as I think their intense citric punch is a good contrast against the sugar, but a sweet and orange-y Meyer lemon will be just as happy in a clinking glass filled with ice. I also always toss in the pod and seeds of a fresh vanilla bean - usually Tahitian for its creaminess - as it adds a floral, rich, decadent layer of flavor to the lemonade. Plus, who can resist the comely pinprick speckles of real vanilla dancing in their drink?
Be sure to use a peeler to peel the zest from your lemons before you juice them. Added to the simple syrup they impart a lot of color and flavor. Enjoy a creamy, yet tangy beverage with our vanilla bean lemonade recipe below.
Vanilla Bean Lemonade Recipe
- peels of lemon zest from juice lemons
- 1 vanilla bean (preferably Mexican), split and seeded
- 1 cup of sugar
- 5 cups of water
- 1 1/2 cups lemon juice
- lemon slices for serving (optional)
1. Place the lemon peels, vanilla seeds and pod, the sugar, and 1 cup of the water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and let cook for 1 minute. Cover and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
2. Pour the simple syrup (peels, pod, and all) into a pitcher. Add the rest of the water and the lemon juice and stir. Taste and adjust as needed. The vanilla pod and peels will continue to infuse the lemonade as it sits. Pour into glasses filled with ice and garnish with a slice of lemon.