During warmer weather, I like infusing herbs and other aromatics into lemonade and limeade (for instance: mint, basil, rosemary, lemongrass, ginger). I was recently pondering the possibility of infusing thyme into lemonade since my thyme plants are going crazy in the backyard, and there are other savory recipes that pair lemons with thyme. I did a quick bing search, and the first item that popped up was a Martha Stewart recipe for thyme lemonade. Martha says it has an “unexpected grown-up flair.” I decided to go for it, since Martha approves. If a different herb sounds good to you, feel free to follow this process and substitute another herb in the thyme’s place.
This recipe makes a concentrate which will create 4-5 pitchers of lemonade. To save space in the fridge before a party, I make a concentrate which consists of the lemon juice and infused simple syrup. Then right before serving, I dilute a small portion of the concentrate in a with water in a pitcher. My ratio is 1 part concentrate to 4 parts water, but you can adjust that per your own taste. You can use flat water or sparkling water, your choice. If you want to turn this into a cocktail, gin would be a complementary option.
The thyme in my backyard is a fluffy and fuzzy sort of thyme. It’s fun to use, but the regular variety of thyme will look more delicate and dainty floating in the lemonade pitcher.
THYME-INFUSED LEMONADE – makes 4-5 pitchers
4 cups of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
grated zest of 2 lemons
2 cups sugar
1 cup loosely-packed fresh thyme branches
1 cup water for the simple syrup
water or sparkling water to fill the pitchers
Juice the lemons. If you have an electric citrus juice, this will go faster.
Make the infused simple syrup by combining the sugar, lemon zest, thyme branches, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a full boil, then remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Combine the infused simple syrup with the lemon juice in a pitcher or large tupperware, and chill in the fridge until ready to use. Leave the thyme branches in the lemonade so that they can continue their infusion. The thyme will be more pronounced the next day, but not overpowering.
To serve, I combine 1 1/2 cups of this concentrate with 6 cups water in a pitcher. That is a ratio of 1 part concentrate to 4 parts water. Adjust this ratio for yourself depending on the size of your pitcher, and the size of your sweet tooth. I like this proportion because it is less sweet and more refreshing, but you might like it a bit more concentrated. You might also want to adjust the concentrate itself in terms of the balance of sugar to lemon juice. You can add a shot of gin to your glass, if desired.