Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[food] New Adventures in Lemonade

For months now I've been feeding my post-operative vitamin C addiction with a lot of lemonade and limeade. Recently I finally decided to try making my own. [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]

This is most definitely dandy, but it puts a lot of refined sugar into my diet. If you deconstruct the basic recipe made the way I like to make it (tart and strong), a cup of lemonade is 7 parts water to 3 parts lemon juice to 2 parts refined sugar, or just under a quarter cup of refined sugar. And that's with a lot less simple syrup than most recipes call for.

So I've been considering alternatives to the basic simple syrup. My friend Andrea at Food Fascination suggested using Splenda baking mix, which is 50% sucralose and 50% refined sugar. I decided to try that, as well as dark brown sugar, just for the heck of it.

I boiled up two new batches of simple syrup, one with the Splenda baking mix, the other with the dark brown sugar. The Splenda calls for being used at 1/2 the quantity of a given recipe to reach the same sweetness (ie, 1/4 the amount of refined sugar), so I cut the water-to-sweetener ratio in half. This produces a much thinner syrup, which had some effect on the final consistency of the lemonade.

The dark brown sugar, boiled to simple syrup, isn't all that different from molasses. Interesting and useful, but definitely not the same thing as simple syrup boiled from ordinary refined sugar. Nonetheless, I forged ahead.

Also, I juiced eight large lemons.

Juice of eight large lemons, sucralose simple syrup, dark brown sugar simple syrup, refined sugar simple syrup

I split the lemon juice into three jars, roughly 1/2 cup each, and added roughly 1/2 cup of each simple syrup to double the volume and create the lemonade concentrate, per my usual practice.

Lemonade concentrate with sucralose, lemonade concentrate with dark brown sugar, lemonade concentrate with simple syrup

I then added a cup of chilled, filtered water to double the volume again, threw in a few ice cubes, and shook vigorously.

Sucralose lemonade

Dark brown sugar lemonade

Refined sugar lemonade

Note the sucralose lemonade is slightly thinner in consistency than the refined sugar lemonade, but otherwise nearly identical. Not unexpectedly so. The dark brown sugar lemonade looks like Long Island iced tea.

On taste testing, the basic lemonade tasted like lemonade. The dark brown sugar lemonade tasted like lemonade made with molasses. Not bad, really, but definitely didn't hit the spot. (I did drink it all, however.) It might have a future as a drinks mixer. The sucralose lemonade tasted like the refined sugar lemonade, just a bit less robust and with a faint chemical aftertaste.

I will blind test the sucralose and refined sugar lemonades later, to see if I was imagining the chemical aftertaste, which is quite possible. I will also repeat this experiment with limes, just for the heck of it.

Results? No more brown sugar simple syrup for me, unless I'm out of pancake syrup, want to make oatmeal molasses cookies, or am messing around behind a bar. I'll see if I can get used to the sucralose stuff, because that drops the refined sugar content by 75% over what I'm drinking now, albeit at a much higher cost.

This episode of "As The Sugar Boils" has been brought to you by the Nuevo Rancho Lake Kitchen of Science.

Originally published at jlake.com.

Tags: food, personal

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