Here in the UK, our summer tends to be on the short side – so we like to make the most of it. Ditch shop-bought pop and soda for these delicious home-made creations – they taste delicious, are much better value and you can get the children involved in making them too.
1. Iced mint tea
This one couldn’t be simpler, and it’s almost calorie-free if you don’t add sugar – all you need is tea bags, a tea pot, fresh garden mint and a bottle or jug. It does need making a good few hours in advance though, to give it time to cool down before you drink it.
Just put two or three tea bags in the pot along with a good handful of washed, fresh, whole mint leaves.
Top up with boiling water, and allow to stand for a minute or so. Give it a good stir and fish the tea bags out, leaving the mint.
Leave the mint in for another two or three hours, then drain into a clean, washed bottle or a jug with a lid. If you find it a little bitter, add sugar to taste.
Allow to cool completely (this could take a while) before refrigerating. Serve with ice and a slice of lemon or a sprig of mint leaves.
2. Homemade blackcurrant cordial
This is a great recipe for using up a glut of blackcurrants. The quantities are a little variable depending on the ripeness of the fruit and now sweet you like your drink.
You’ll need around 500g of blackcurrants, washed and with stalks removed.
Put them in a large pan with 300g sugar, 600ml water and the juice and zest of one lemon. Heat very gently until the sugar dissolves, then turn the heat up a little until the mixture is just simmering.
Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overheat. Let it cook for around 15 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the pan stand for a few minutes more for the flavours to infuse.
Pour the cordial through a fine sieve or square of muslin into a clean, washed bottle or jug, and allow to cool completely before refrigerating.
To drink, dilute as desired with cold still or sparkling water.
3. Traditional homemade lemonade
Possibly the most refreshing drink of the summer, there’s something very carefree and 1950s about homemade lemonade. You’ll need 5 to 6 fresh lemon juice (around 350ml juice), 300g white sugar and around 2 litres of water.
The problem with just stirring the sugar into the water and juice is that it won’t dissolve properly and will just sink to the bottom. Avoid this by making a sugar syrup first.
Put the sugar and 250ml water into a saucepan and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring continuously, until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat, and let the syrup cool completely.
Meanwhile, zest the lemons and put the zest in a large jug or bottle. Squeeze the lemons into the jug, removing any pips but scraping out as much pulp as possible.
Add the remaining water and the syrup, stir thoroughly, add ice cubes and serve as soon as possible.
4. Homemade raspberry, ginger or lime and orange lemonade
For a variation on homemade lemonade, try the following.
For raspberry lemonade, make up a batch as above. Gently cook a handful of raspberries with 100ml water, then strain them into the rug with the lemonade. The resulting drink will be bright pink and tangy.
For ginger lemonade, peel a 2.5cm piece of root ginger and finely grate it into the syrup before boiling. Strain the syrup, then make up the lemonade as above.
For lime and orange lemonade, substitute two of the lemons for a two limes and an orange then continue as above.
5. Rosehip and peach iced tea
This is an easy drink that looks impressive. Again, start well in advance so the tea has time to cool.
Make a pot of tea with rosehip herbal tea bags, and leave it to stand with the bags in for at least an hour. Allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, liquidise a tin of peaches in juice, and add a little sugar to taste.
Mix with the cooled tea, and serve over lots of ice with fresh peach slices on the side of the glass.
(Images courtesy of Pixabay)