If you’ve never tasted fresh lemonade, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s just so much more vivid than the supermarket stuff, much more about the lemon and less about the sugar.
True, juicing the lemons can be a pain, but the process becomes very near painless if you start by softening the lemons in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then all you have to do is add sugar syrup — a mixture of sugar and water, heated until the sugar is dissolved — and some cold water. Done.
In short, it’s hard to top fresh lemonade all by itself. Still, for those so inclined, there are plenty of ways to gild this lily. You can infuse the sugar syrup with fresh herbs. You can add seltzer. You can combine it with other fruit juices, including cranberry, apple and pomegranate. Or — and here is the heart of today’s recipe — you can glorify it with flavor-packed ice cubes.
My favorite ice cubes for lemonade (or iced tea) are pureed fruit cubes. Almost any fruit will work. Just puree it, pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze them. The right tool for this job is a blender, which purees the fruit more completely than a food processor or an immersion blender. Of course, you can still use those other tools if they’re the only ones you have at hand.
By the way, if you want to get all fancy, you’re welcome to strain the puree before you freeze it, though the gain in smoothness will also mean a loss in fiber.
In celebration of the Fourth of July, we’ll dress up our lemonade with three different kinds of cubes — watermelon, coconut and blueberry for red, white and blue. Holiday aesthetics and electrifying flavor aside, this drink is almost absurdly healthy. Every glass contains a half-cup each of blueberries and watermelon.