This challenge was done on the road, so to speak. I traveled to be with my mom in Minnesota for her surgery and recovery period. I was a bit puzzled as to what to do for this challenge when Mom suggested, “What about the Mint Lemonade?” What a brilliant idea! This recipe has been in the family for a few generations. Mom, who is now 80, remembers my grandma, Olive Viola Korroll Winiecke, making it when she was a little girl,to bring when they would visit my great grandma, Emma Korroll! (If you can keep that straight, you’re doing better than I do most days!)
The story is when my mom was quite young, maybe about four, her family of Mom & Dad and two older brothers piled into the family car and drove out to visit the grandparents family farm near Lake Owasso in what once was known as Rose Township, now known as Roseville. The farm only exists in memory now and a few small photographs as it had been sold to a developer in 1957 for about $15,000 for the 10-12 acres parcel and torn down. The Golden Living Center-Lake Ridge now stands where the farm once was.
My grandma had made Mint Lemonade to bring along for the meal. The lemonade was carried in a one gallon metal enameled picnic jug with a ceramic liner and insulated top plug. This isn’t the exact jug, but is as similar as I could find that matched Mom’s memory.
While at the farm, there was a terrible hail storm. The jagged hail stones were so large, they wanted to bring them back to their home in Saint Paul to show the neighbors, so they were packed into the picnic jug that had held the lemonade.
Mint Lemonade is still popular today in my family and my daughter even wrote about it in her blog here. It was about 1940 when my mom remembers the hail storm and the mint lemonade. We’re not sure how long it had been a family tradition before that time, my Great Grandma might have made it as well.
I never got to meet my grandma, she passed away in 1956 when my mom was only 20. Although my mom remembers the lemonade, she never knew exactly how my grandma made it. We’ve come up with the proportions of lemon to sugar, but the exact method of Grandma infused the mint is a bit of a mystery. Below is the basic recipe. I’ll give a couple of different options as how to make it.
Mint Lemonade Recipe
2 1/2 Cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 10 lemons)
1 3/4 Sugar, more or less depending on how sweet or sour your taste is.
A large fist full of fresh mint sprigs.
Enough cold water and ice to make a gallon.
This is how my mom makes it. First juice the lemons. The mint leaves are put into a small blender jar with some water or lemon juice. Blend it until the mint leaves are liquified. The lemon juice, liquified mint, and sugar are stirred into a gallon size pitcher until the sugar is dissolved. Ice and water are added to make a full gallon. Most of the time it is served as is with all the pulp. If it sets for a while it settles out and will need to be stirred before serving. When served like this my kids dubbed it “swamp water.” It looks a bit odd, but is still very tasty. When made this way, the lemon juice and mint could be put through a strainer to make it look a bit more refined.
Since my grandma wouldn’t have had a blender to use, I tried to come up with a more authentic way she may have made it. The benefit of doing this challenge at my mom’s house, is she has all the knowledge and many of the actual vintage item’s used to produce and serve the mint lemonade. The citrus juicer in the photo below belonged to my grandma and may have been the one she used back in 1940 to make the mint lemonade the day of the hailstorm!
Start by juicing your lemons, any form of juicer will work. Juice enough lemons to make 2 1/2 Cups of fresh lemon juice.
Pluck the leaves off a small bunch of mint. A good fist full works well but if you are purchasing fresh mint in a grocery store that only has small plastic packages of fresh herbs, purchase and use at least two of these. Place the mint leaves in a small sauce pan with a small amount of water and crush them with a blunt spoon to help release the juices. Bring to a low boil and simmer a few minutes. Let this mixture cool for a while, then strain out the leaves squeezing them to release every bit of minty goodness! Combine lemon juice, mint water and sugar into a gallon pitcher and stir to dissolve sugar. Add ice and water to make one gallon. Extra mint leaves and lemon slices look nice in the pitcher and serving glasses and add extra flavor too!
What was even more fun, the tumblers with an etched floral design I used to serve the mint lemonade in had been my grandma’s tumblers, and the crocheted table cloth in the photo had been crocheted by my grandma as well.
The time frame for this recipe is about 1940, possibly earlier.
Cost to make about $5 for the lemons and another $2 for the bunch of mint. Roughly $7 for the gallon, but worth every penny.
Time to make, about twenty minutes to half an hour depending on the method you use to juice your lemons or make your mint infusion.
Always a success! Especially refreshing on hot, summer days!