In days of yore (actually the early 1930s when I was a boy) my family lived in the country. We were almost self-supporting during the depression. We had a chicken farm (all free range, obviously), so had eggs and fowls to eat. We grew our own vegetables and fruit, preserving the surplus in one way or another to feed us through the winter months.
We had no electricity, so no refrigeration. Food was kept in a larder on the north side of the house near to the kitchen. Home-made gas gave us light in the dark evenings. It all sounds a bit primitive by today’s standards. But, except for being poor, we children were very content with our lot.
Our parents entertained with dances on our sprung drawing room floor in winter and tennis on a grass court in summer where, if any of us three children could find a weed, we were rewarded.
My father, having been badly wounded in the ‘14-’18 war, was somewhat of a health freak (which in fact killed him when trying radium, Madame Curie’s new invention). So fruit featured in our diet quite often.
For liquid sustenance, our guests were offered home-made lemonade. And memorable it was, being simple to make and delicious to drink. I make it to this day – more in summer than in winter.
The ingredients for this family lemonade were lemons (they were not waxed then) brown sugar (then known as pieces) and water. It is best made as an essence, and nowadays kept in a bottle in the refrigerator, to be diluted with water (which came ice cold from a well in those days), sparkling water, or even bought fizzy lemonade. Rum, vodka or other spirit will also turn it into something quite delicious.
Take four unwaxed lemons of a decent size. Halve them, and squeeze out the juice. Place this juice, pips and roughage in a bowl.
Cut up each lemon half into about three pieces and add these to the bowl.
Now add (for a sharpish essence) a table spoon of brown sugar.
I then press it all down in the bowl with a potato masher before and after adding most of a kettle full of boiling water. This releases some oils from the skin.
Allow the contents of the bowl to cool and, with a large funnel and sieve, strain the lemonade essence into a bottle – clear, plastic, glass, juice or water bottle will do.
Refrigerate this concentrate and use it diluted to taste with ice and what you will.
You will be drinking something pure and delicious – and with not an E-number involved.