I am always amused when people who are not from Michigan assume that because we’re a northern state, we never have hot weather. When we were on the island of Hawaii a few years ago, a waitress commented, upon learning where we were from, that their 80 degrees must feel very hot to us. I told her that since it was mid June, it was likely hotter back home and certainly more humid, as we don’t have the trade winds to cool us down.
Michigan summers can be horribly hot and humid, and the last month or so has been no exception – frequent 90 plus days and humidity that you could cut with a knife. Clearly lemonade weather.
I’ve always loved the tart flavor of lemonade, and in recent years, there have been many different twists and takes on this classic beverage. There are those that combine it with other juices such as strawberry, raspberry, peach, etc., and those are good. But last year, I had a more unique and perhaps not as obvious version of lemonade – infused with lavender.
We were at a newish restaurant in Saugatuck, which, unfortunately, proved to be a bit disappointing – the food was creative but largely unappetizing and rather pretentiously priced. However, they did serve lavender lemonade, which I’d never seen before. It was delicious, and I resolved to make it myself.
Luckily I have a large patch of lavender in my flower garden, so all I have to do it walk out back and pick some. If you don’t grow any yourself, you can probably find it at your local farmer’s market.
The recipe follows the theory of making a simple syprup – the boiling of the water and sugar help infuse the lavender oils into the syrup. This syrup is a bit lighter than a traditional simple syrup – a 2 to 1 water to sugar ratio rather than one to one – but you can experiment with ratios to find what works best for you.
- 8 to 10 sprigs fresh lavender flowers
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 cups water (for lavender simple syrup)
- 1 1/2 cups lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)
- 2 cups cold water
Lavender Simple Syrup
- Place the lavender flower sprigs in the sugar and crush and roll them around a bit to release oils.
- Add the lavender sugar mixture to 2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Strain the liquid into a pitcher, and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and the additional 2 cups of cold water and stir well. Taste and adjust sugar and lemon juice until desired sweetness is reached. Serve over ice, and garnish with more fresh lavender and lemon slices, as desired.