I had some basil that was still good but a little too old and weary to turn into salad or pesto. I decided to make my cheat-style basil lemonade.
If you were doing it the “real” way, you’d mix a cup of sugar with about two cups of water in a saucepan. You heat it just long enough to dissolve the sugar. This is how you make simple syrup. You can flavor it in lots of ways, but there are some things that get bitter if you cook them. Basil is one of these things, so if you want to flavor your syrup with basil, you wait to take the syrup off the heat before you add it. You let it steep like tea. After about 10 minutes, strain out the basil, and then use the syrup to flavor fresh lemon juice from lots if lemons and water.
I’ve done it and it’s delicious, but it can be a lot of work when you don’t have the energy. As a result, I devised a cheat.
I clean my basil and stuff it in a 4-cup measuring cup. I heat a teakettle and when it boils, I pour water over the basil and to the top of the measuring cup. I then walk away and let it steep 10 minutes. Next, strain out the basil and put the basil scented and flavored water in the pitcher you’ll use for the lemonade.
Here’s the cheat: frozen lemonade concentrate. It already contains the lemons and sugar so all you need is water. The basil water goes in first and then you make the rest to directions from the can.
For example, my concentrate said to use about 4 cans of water. I had about two cans worth of basil water so I just add two more cans of plain water.
The basil water is warm-ish so you do need to refrigerate it overnight or for a few hours. Serve over ice. Add more basil if you like.
You can do the same thing with mint. With lavender. Anything you like. Just make a tea with water from a kettle, steep like tea, and strain before using with frozen concentrate.
The nice thing is it’s almost no effort for a nice, summer drink. If you want to make it adult, add vodka or a lemon liqueur.