We are just returned from our first visit to Prague and I brought home several pieces of the city with me: images of the impressive and substantial architecture, appreciation of the embattled but resilient history of its people, the taste of Tredlnik sold by street vendors and the refreshment of the different flavored lemonade that appeared on the menu of every cafe we visited. Given the record heat that was blanketing Europe during our visit, these lemonades were the elixir that made the rest of the day's excursions possible. Of all the different flavored lemonades of Prague, 3 made regular appearances: cucumber, ginger and elderflower. These additions were subtle, lemon still being the predominant flavor, but still added just a little something special and made us appreciate the new squeeze on lemonade…Prague style.
Kate and I stumbled upon some gift stores in Prague titled Manufaktura. There were scores of the typical tourist gift stores in the city, but Manufaktura specializes in local, handmade gifts including lotions, soaps, wooden toys and kitchen utensils. I was thrilled to find that their products also included ginger and elderflower syrup so I could make my ‘Prague lemonades' back home.
Items like these syrups are the little tokens of a place that I like to bring home, but instead of buying an elderflower syrup and a ginger syrup, I ended up with 2 ginger syrups. Rats! I wasn't surprised to find that I couldn't source the elderflower syrup in my local town but that I could on Amazon.
I ordered a bottle of Belvoir Elderflower Cordial so that I could replicate my lemonades. Elderberry trees grow throughout Europe and the US, but it seems that the Europeans make use of their flowers for a variety of foods, including cordials, more than we do here in the states.
So this weekend, after working up a sweat doing yardwork, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to have a Prague flashback. I had a Costco-size bag of lemons on hand as well as my ginger and elderflower syrups, so it was kitchen kismet.
I did realize in making my lemonade that I am a lemonade lightweight. After trying several mouth-puckering recipes, I realized that my perfect lemonade is closer to Chik-fil-a than Martha Stewart. Martha's recipe for 8 servings used 3 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 cups of sugar and 4 cups of ice cubes (no additional water) which would melt over time, but packed a powerful pucker punch at the get-go.
The Chick-fil-a lemonade recipe calls for 1-1/2 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 cup of sugar and 5-1/3 cups of water for 4-6 servings. Given that the ginger and elderflower syrups both contain sugar, I knocked back the sugar in the lemonade so that it wouldn't be too sweet.
I added 2 tablespoons of Elderflower syrup to a 10 oz glass of lemonade and it was perfect! With the Ginger Syrup, start with 1 tablespoon of the syrup and add more as needed. I was very happy with 1 tablespoon…it imparted just enough flavor without being overpowering. We had a family test taste of all the different lemonade flavors. Rob and Terry clearly preferred the elderflower lemonade, but I liked all three equally.
For the cucumber lemonade, I found that the flavor improved if the cucumbers sat in the liquid for at least an hour. You could make your cucumber water earlier in the day and then combine in with the lemons when you squeezed them. I find that lemonade is best when consumed shortly after it is made, so I don't want the lemonade to sit around waiting for the cucumbers to let their flavor go.
Unless your travel plans take you to Europe this summer, you'll need to find your syrups stateside. If you're in a big city, you'll surely have an easier time than I would. But there is always Amazon. In addition to carrying Elderflower syrup, they also have Ginger People Ginger Syrup. I know that Whole Foods carries Ginger People products so you may have luck finding it there as well.
Here's the specific recipe for the ‘Chik-fil-a' style lemonade (thanks to Stockpiling Moms), which had much less pucker:
Elderflower Syrup…Add 2 TB per 10 oz glass
Ginger Syrup…Add 1-2 TB of per 10 oz glass
Cucumber Slices…Add to water 1-2 hours before making lemonade to get the most flavor from the cucumbers.
Hope these new squeezes on lemonade help you through the dog days of summer! If, at the end of a particular dog day, you are looking for something with a bit more of kick, try the Aperol Spritz that we also tried for the first time in Europe.
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