How to Make Magic Color-Changing Lemonade
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When you think of lemonade, you probably picture either concentrate that comes in a can, or over-sweetened, lackluster juice in a plastic bottle. Did you know that it’s really easy to make delicious lemonade at home with 3 ingredients (a 4th if you want to make it magic)? Here’s how you do it:
Simple syrup is just sugar dissolved in water. It’s used in lots of drinks and desserts, and can be infused with lots of flavors. To make the syrup for our lemonade, bring 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar to a boil on the stove. You don’t need to bring it to a rolling boil, just enough so that the sugar completely dissolves. Stir the sugar when you first put it in the water. When the sugar dissolves, turn off the heat and add a sliced lemon. This will infuse the simple syrup with lemony goodness. Let the syrup cool while you juice the lemons.
Fresh Lemon Juice
It’s important to use fresh lemon juice in this recipe for maximum freshness. Real lemons have more complex flavor than the stuff in the plastic bottle at the store. My oldest daughter was my official lemon juicer and photo assistant for this recipe. It was very cute. We used this citrus reamer to juice our lemons. To get one cup of juice, we used 7-8 lemons, depending on the size of the fruit.
Just Add Water
After you have your lemon infused simple syrup and your fresh lemon juice, pour them both through a fine mesh strainer to catch any seeds and big pieces of pulp. To remove the lemon slices from the simple syrup, you can either fish them out with a spoon or catch them in your strainer. You can place the strainer right on top of your serving pitcher. Then add 6 cups of water. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then add your desired amount of ice right before service.
This homemade lemonade is crisp, refreshing, and just sweet enough. If you’ve never had homemade lemonade, you’re really in for a treat, especially when we add the magic.
Here’s Where the Magic Happens.
Have you heard of butterfly pea flower powder? As the name suggests, it’s a powder made from the dried flowers of the butterfly pea plant, which grows in Thailand. The flowers are bright blue, and the powder makes a great natural food dye. It also supposedly has all sorts of health benefits, but really IT TURNS FOOD BLUE. I’ve seen some drinks and a cheesecake that use this powder, and you bet we’re going to be turning some stuff blue, but butterfly pea flower powder does a magic trick when added to lemonade.
When you mix blue paint and yellow paint together, what do you get? Green, right? So, if we add a deep blue liquid to yellow lemonade, we should get a blueish- greenish color, right? Take a look:
In the first picture, you can see the deep blue liquid going into the lemonade. It stays blue at the top for a second, but as my daughter mixes it in, it turns a gorgeous shade of pinkish purple! Why does this happen, you ask? The Learning Resources blog explains it like this:
Butterfly pea flowers contain a super bright blue pigment called anthocyanin… The anthocyanin in the tea acts as a base indicator, which means it will change color as the pH level changes. Lemonade is a drink high with acid. When the tea combines with the lemony drink, it will transition its color from blue, basic pH, into a purple-then-pink highly acidic pH. The indicator has changed!The learning resources blog
The tea they are referring to is butterfly pea flowers steeped in water. In our case, we just mix the powder with a little bit of water before adding it to the lemonade. Be sure to mix it well with a whisk to avoid unpleasant lumps.
My daughters have really enjoyed making this magic lemonade, and I know you will too! Please share this recipe on social media, and join my mailing list if you haven’t already so you don’t miss the July Test Cook Challenge!
Until next time, fellow test cooks.
- 1 cup cup water for simple syrup
- 1 cup cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice about 8 lemons' worth
- 6 cups water
- butterfly pea flower powder 1/16 of a teaspoon for one glass, 1/2 teaspoon for a whole pitcher.
- In a medium saucepot, bring 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar to a boil, until the sugar is completely dissolved. This is called simple syrup, and will be the sweetener for the lemonade.
- Pull the simple syrup off the heat, and add a sliced lemon. Let this steep for a few minutes. This just boosts the lemon flavor.
- Pour both the lemon juice and the simple syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher.
- Add 6 cups of water to the pitcher.
- Put your desired amount of ice into the pitcher when ready to serve.
- To make some magic, whisk the butterfly pea flower powder (1/16 teaspoon for one glass or 1/2 teaspoon for a pitcher) into a small amount of water. Whisk thoroughly to get any lumps out.
- Pour the deep blue liquid into the lemonade, stir, and watch the acid in the lemonade turn the blue liquid a pinkish purple!