Posts Tagged With: lemons

National Fresh Squeezed Juice Day

As promised, occasionally we’ll celebrate some of the food holidays we chose to skip last year in favor of others. Today marks one of those. January 15 is National Fresh Squeezed Juice Day!

Actually, this is a recent addition to the calendar. I updated the National Food Holidays page to directly link to each challenge, and in the process, did some double-checking against a variety of online calendars looking for missed holidays. There were a bunch, as it turns out. I lamented often last year about the lack of consistency between calendars and our “majority rules” stipulation. I have yet to find two food holiday calendars that are perfectly identical, but feels ours is as close to perfect as it gets!

This holiday was a timely one, as Tara had zested a bunch of lemons over the weekend in order to bake my dad a birthday cake, and had no idea what to do with the leftover peeled lemons. I’ve always subscribed to the axiom “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade!” – and in this case, I took that quite literally. Fresh squeezed lemonade it was!

Fresh squeezed juices have been a staple of the American diet ever since some klutzy Colonist accidentally stepped on an orange. Actually, that’s not what the history books tell us, though it makes for a humorous story. Humans have probably been drinking the juices from a variety of fruits for thousands of years, but the modern juice industry got its start in the mid-1910s thanks to an excess of oranges. California farmers had grown too many to sell, and not wanting to waste them, decided to juice them instead, taking advantage of a new process known as pasteurization. Now the juice could be stored for longer periods of time, and the nation’s railway system was able to whisk away cartons to major cities around the country. The juicing industry was born.

Of course, this refers to commercial juice, which is anything but fresh-squeezed. Fresh juice was seen as a healthy alternative to sodas and other beverages, and in the 1980s the popularity of juice bars (and home juicing machines) exploded. Suddenly, every Dick and Jane worth their salt was juicing their own fresh squeezed oranges, apples, grapefruits, pineapples, tomatoes, grapes, carrots, cranberries, mangoes, passion fruit, and pomegranates.

I have always been a big fan of lemonade, and fresh squeezed is about a thousand times superior to Minute Maid or any type of frozen concentrate. Tonight’s was no exception!

National Fresh Squeezed Juice Day

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Categories: Beverages, Fruit | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

232/365: National Lemonade Day*

Pucker up, sweetie: August 20 is National Lemonade Day!

It’s also National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day, but boy, are we all pied out. And there are still more to come. (Incidentally, if that seems like an unusual pie flavor to you, we thought so, too. A little over a week ago we were at the Bite of Oregon festival in Portland, and stumbled upon a chocolate pecan pie that we ended up trying, without even being aware that this holiday was coming up. It was very good).

I’ve always had a soft spot for lemonade. I think this is because I’m not a big fan of soda, rarely drinking it (and when I do, it often contains alcohol). Lemonade is a tasty, refreshing alternative, especially on warm summer afternoons.

Lemonade is a sweetened beverage made with lemons, sugar, and water. It dates back to at least the 10th century, when Egyptians were making quite a profit selling the juice from lemons, which flourished in the region. Locals enjoyed the beverage mixed with lots of sugar. We know this thanks to Nasir-i-Khusraw, a Persian poet and traveler who wrote an extensive treatise on life in Egypt during this time. A typical excerpt read, “Woke up. Worshipped a cat. Drank lots of lemonade. Dinner with daddy and mummy. Bed time.” When told that too much of the sweetened concoction could cause tooth decay, Egyptians said, “no – you’re wrong.” Those folks were in de-Nile.

(Longest set-up to a punch line ever).

Actually, drinking lemonade can be healthy. Studies show that consuming 4 oz. of lemon juice mixed with two liters of water every day can help prevent kidney stones. On the downside, this may put you in a sour mood.

I’m here all week, folks.

There are numerous flavor combinations of lemonade, found throughout the world. Pink lemonade, made with the addition of grenadine syrup, is particularly popular. Almost any fresh, seasonal fruit can be mixed with lemons to form a tasty variation on the classic; popular additions include strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. In the U.K., lemonade is typically carbonated, and similar to lemon-lime sodas such as Sprite or 7-Up. In Ireland, lemonade is available in three varieties: red, brown, and white. And in France, American-style lemonade is called “citronade.”

To celebrate, we made a pitcher of lemonade from a basic recipe:

  • 6 medium lemons (about 1 cup of juice)
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (adjust to taste)

Juice the lemons with a juicer or by hand. Rolling them on the counter with moderate pressure prior to juicing will result in more juice from each lemon. Try to keep out the seeds. If you prefer lemonade with no pulp, strain the juice to remove it. Dissolve the sugar in the water (heat may be helpful). Combine the juice with the sugar water in a pitcher and stir well. Chill or serve over ice cubes.

I’m happy to report, this seems to be the perfect ratio; Tara and I met up at home for lunch, and enjoyed some fresh lemonade. It was about a thousand times better than concentrate, too!

National Lemonade Day

Categories: Beverages | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

90/365: National Tater Day, National Oranges & Lemons Day*

If whoever created these food holidays had a sense of humor, then the last day of March would be dedicated to lamb. (You know – “in like a lion, out like a lamb” and all). But alas, it is National Tater Day. Not to be confused with National Potato Day (October 27). Oh, and it’s also National Oranges and Lemons Day. And National Clams on the Half Shell Day. And on top of all that, it’s Easter, too. Sheesh! (I mean, Happy Easter). After learning about the clamming accident that has led to supply shortages, we decided to focus our efforts on both potatoes and oranges and lemons, Knocking them all out in one sitting.

Potatoes grew wild throughout the Americas, and were first domesticated in Peru sometime between 8000-5000 B.C. A well-kept secret at first, when the Spanish conquest decimated the Inca Empire, the Spanish brought potatoes to Europe in the 16th century. Over the next couple of hundred years they spread around the world, becoming a staple crop in many countries. Plentiful and easy to grow, the potato is responsible for an estimated 25% of the world’s population growth during this time. Some of this population gain was wiped out in 1845, when the Irish Potato Famine devastated that country, wiping out the entire crop and leading to approximately one million deaths, and causing a mass exodus from the land o’ leprechauns.

Oranges and lemons are two of the most popular citrus fruits. I feel bad leaving out limes and grapefruit, but rules is rules, man. There’s a popular English nursery rhyme about oranges and lemons that goes,

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!

Yikes! That’s supposed to help a kid fall asleep? How will that work, with the threat of decapitation looming? Seems like something the brothers Grimm might conjure up. It is believed that oranges originated somewhere in Asia around 2500 B.C. In Europe, oranges and other citrus fruits were grown largely for medicinal purposes; Vitamin C is still considered an excellent cold remedy to this day. Lemons came from the same region, and are a cross between the sour orange and the citron. Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds along on his voyages, introducing them throughout the New World. Today, they – and oranges – grow exceptionally well in Florida and California.

We celebrated both food holidays with a delicious breakfast (using the taters and oranges) and later, iced tea and sweet tea vodka with fresh lemons. Everything was great!

Taters, oranges, and lemons. That's two food holidays in one!

Taters, oranges, and lemons. That’s two food holidays in one!

Categories: Fruit, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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