Inspired by Mimi Cheng’s
A few notes: I made this the first time with the cucumber skin on. As only surprised me, this makes for a very green juice, as in your guest will ask “You made me green juice?” Of course, no harm in that. The second time, which yielded the finished lemonade you see here, I peeled the cucumbers, which led to pale pastel green tinge to the lemonade. You can use any variety of cucumber; in the first batch, I used one of those large English cucumbers. In the second, I used 4 kirby cucumbers from a Greenmarket (each weighed 4 ounces). Flavor and concentration-wise I prefer a tart lemonade that’s a little bit on the concentrated side because we almost always finish ours off with a small glug of seltzer. For a sweeter, but not excessively sweet lemonade, use 1/2 cup sugar. If you’re not going to finish yours with sparkling or mineral water, use it for a cocktail or pour it over a glass of ice, you might find that you’d prefer this with 1/2 to 3/4 cup extra cold water. Finally, I find making simple syrup a pain (it’s a whole extra step!) and upon reading this over the summer, was reminded that you can totally skip this step and just add the sugar directly. Shaken a few times, within 15 minutes it will be fully dissolved, far more quickly than it would take to cool simple syrup. My lemonade feels so free!
Makes just over 1 quart (4 cups). Serves 4 to 6 and up to 8 if you like a lot of fizzy water in yours.
1 pound cucumber(s), peeled or unpeeled, cut into large chunks, plus a few extra thin cucumber slices for garnish
1 cup lemon juice (from about 7 to 8 lemons, although juiciness will vary)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cold water
Run cucumber through a blender or food processor until pureed, then run it for a full extra minute to ensure that it’s as processed as possible. Set a fine-mesh strainer ora regular strainer lined with a couple layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter over a pitcher and pour cucumber puree through it, stirring to help it move along faster. Discard solids. In the pitcher, you should have about 1 cup cucumber juice.* Add lemon juice and sugar to it, then water. Give it a good stir or shake, and let it sit in the fridge (to get it started chilling) for 15 minutes, after which a couple more stirs or shakes should leave the sugar fully dissolved. Taste lemonade, adding more sugar or water if desired. (See Notes up top about concentration and sweetness.) Serve chilled over ice, with or without a splash of seltzer on top. You can fancy up the glass with a garnish of cucumber slice, if desired.
Can we put gin in this? Of course you can.
* Of course, if you have a juicer, you can use it here to the same effect.