Recipe for homemade lemon shake-ups

Recipe for homemade lemon shake-ups

I grew up in Paxton, and some of my fondest memories are from its Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration in Pells Park.

Blog PhotoWhen I was little, my mom was involved in the now-defunct Junior Women’s Club. As an annual fundraiser, members sold lemon shake-ups at the park on the Fourth. I remember attending their night-before gatherings as they cut and juiced cases of lemons.

I also remember my dad and other reluctant volunteers swearing as they picked up the club’s shake-up stand and assembled it under the enormous tree just north of the park’s large pavilion.

I remember the rattle of the Tupperware that shakers club members used as they shook the ice, lemon juice, sugar and water — and the plop of the lemon quarters they’d add to garnish the shake-ups. My mouth still waters at the memory of drinking those sweet, sour concoctions.

Blog PhotoI was able to recreate the recipe — or at least one similar — in my kitchen with a hand-held juicer and a Mason jar. (You can use a Tupperware or large cocktail shaker, too, but I thought a Mason jar would be something that more people would probably have on hand.) The results were wonderful, and they can be tailored to suit your tastes.

The youth football team still sells lemon shake-ups as a fundraiser at Pells Park in Paxton. If you’re anywhere nearby Thursday, go buy one. It will save you a sticky, lemony mess in your kitchen — and you can’t beat the summery taste.

This recipe makes one shake-up large enough to share (but you probably won’t want to). I Blog Photojuiced a pound of lemons and it yielded enough juice for about four shake-ups.

Lemon Shake-Ups
Six cubes ice from a standard tray
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (if you don’t like pulp or seeds, don’t forget to strain your juice)
1/4 cup sugar (or more to taste)
8 to 12 ounces water

Fill a 1-quart Mason jar to the 8-ounce line with ice. Add lemon juice and sugar. Fill to 16-ounce line with water (this will require about 8 ounces). Put a lid on the Mason jar and shake well. Taste it, and add up to 1/4 cup more sugar and up to 4 more ounces of water. The original recipe makes a very tart shake-up, perfect for people who love sour flavors. Garnish with two lemon peels cut into quarters.
Serve in the Mason jar with a straw, or pour into a large glass.

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dw wrote on July 04, 2013 at 2:07 am

My dad got my sister and me started running a shake-up stand when we were kids for several years at our hometown festival, here's some pro tips as taught to us by an old-time shakeup stand pro:

Sugar is messy and doesn't dissolve well in ice-cold water no matter how hard you shake it:  make sugar water/concentrate instead by boiling and dissolving the sugar/sweetener in the water.  Requires less sugar and your "customer" in this case, YOU will not be left with a bunch of grainy sugar residue at the bottom of their imbibing vessel... though that mix of sugary rind at the bottom has its own appeal... which leads to the next:

The REAL lemon flavor is in the oil, which is in the rind:  One reason traditional shakeup stands stack the glass shakers with the paper cups on top in rows on top of the shelf for all to see is the obvious advertising.  The not-so-obvious reason is to let the sun heat up the rinds and release the lemon oil:  this is the key difference between a lemonade shakeup and a great hand-squeezed lemonade such as at Penn Station.  The oil also serves to stimulate the olfactory factory.

If you run a stand, you put the sugar water concentrate in gallon jugs with pumps (the snow cone flavor dispensers work great), and label it as such so the customers know.  Hard ice clinks in glass glasses when you shake it and attracts customers better than plastic or metal shakers... also allows the rinds to bake better...

Oh, and like apples it's rarely the big round pretty "classic look" lemon that yeilds the best flavor.  It's the ugly duckling with the thin skin that gets the job done -- the big ones are for display, but their rinds are generally a quarter inch thick and harder to squeeze by hand the traditional way -- a mallet/masher in a glass pint glass (though upgrade to plastic as the wooden mallets are hard to keep clean/get by the health inspectors).

If you wish to cheat and make your life easier at home, microwave the lemons (or limes) and roll them on the counter top/cutting board in order to "pre juice" 'em in the skins, then nick a small cut to squeeze/let the juice flow out prior to cutting them up with a knife and squeezing (helps to get all of the precious juice you liberated by rolling into the cup instead of all over the cutting board).  This will also get the oils moving faster than the sun-method... 

Orange shakeups tend to be a bit bland, so mixing in a lemon or lime will give it a much better flavor.

While non-traditional for a shake-up, the pièce de résistance of any citrus beverage as taught to me by my mother in law is a lightly crushed fresh mint sprig on top.  You wouldn't think it adds as much as it does, but wowzers!

Haven't used them in years, but they've been around since we did it as kids and they had all the equipment we needed but the wooden stand itself:  Hadley's Food Service Equipment & Supplies in Champaign.  You can reduce startup costs by avoiding the expensive large metal lever juicers and rely on child labor and plastic mallets and pint glasses.  Your customers will also feel they have a more hand-made product.

mundaywas wrote on July 05, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Can I add adult stuff to this? Suggestions? :)

dw wrote on July 05, 2013 at 11:07 pm

A lemon drop is a classic adult beverage.  I would avoid mixing it with other adult beverages such as Ensure, as citrus curdles milk ;-)