Blueberry Lemonade

If you add blueberries to anything I’ll try it.  I love them, the tart blue globes that burst on the tongue when you close your mouth and the sweetness that is rich and perfect at the same time.  I think this love of the blue berry goes back to my childhood on a big blueberry field in Maine.  We had lowbush wild blueberries and come late July you could find me with my hand in the berries covered in the purple juices that flowed from them.  It was so satisfying to run down through those huge fields trying to keep my balance while leap-frogging rocks and stonewalls to find the best patch of berries.  The “best” berries were always dark blue, nearly black, and in clumps that i would squat down by and eat before my sister, older and more sensible as she was, would pick them to make pie – more berries made it to my mouth then my picking vessel (they still do for that matter).

I love to eat the berries popping them one at a time off the bush but I hate to rake them.  Raking seems like so much work to me with those awkward handles and the sharp tines which I would poke into my ankle or calf – drawing blood and attracting the early morning mosquitoes.  And the hours, the hours of a raker are awful, getting up at 5 or 5:30 and raking until 11:30 or 12 when the berries got to soft from the heat and would turn to instant jam in your bucket, I really hated those hours and always dragged my feet.  Not that it mattered I was a terrible raker, regardless of when I started.  I mangled berries and never got to the bottom of the bush, leaving behind more berries than I raked at times and raising the ire of whichever family member was heading up the crew to work the fields (usually an aunt or a cousin).

But in Maine it’s blueberry season again, and the rakers are starting to get all of the juice and fruit to Wyman’s or some other processor to be cleaned and eaten for the sake of everyone.  The Maine blueberry is my pride and joy – leading to great arguments with my friends from New Jersey who claim they have the better blueberry, we both know they’re just looking for something for Jersey to claim as it’s own.  It’s addictive and it you drop it in lemonade it’s just heavenly.  The tartness of the lemon and the sweetness of the blueberry marry so well that this is something everyone should have in their refrigerators all the time, especially if they are like me and obsessed with lemonade but are always disappointed with the store brand they come across.  I found this to be especially refreshing over the past week or so while we all baked in the greater Boston area.

Blueberry Lemonade
Note: If you want to add ice cubes to this lemonade please count them as water or it will be too watery.
Adapted from The Betty Crocker Cookbook circa 1950

1 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 9 lemons squeezed)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
Rind of 3 lemons, cut into eighths
1/2 -3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen but they better be from MAINE

Combine the water, sugar, lemon rind and blueberries in a saucepan and just bring them to a boil.  Boil for 3-4 minutes, creating a flavored sugar syrup. Strain the syrup into a medium bowl trying to press the juices out of the lemon rind and berries as you do.  I used a vegetable steamer for this – it worked perfectly.  Add the lemon juice to this mixture and you will have your lemonade base.
Using your syrup as a base add water to flavor, I like 1 part syrup to 3 parts water.  To dress it up use club soda or a lemon sparkling water for that refreshing tingle.

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