A lemon for all seasons

illustration by mark stivers

It’s lemon season, and while most people seem to think of lemons as a spring and summer fruit, now is the time to check nearby trees and markets for the first and freshest lemons. Of course, what you do with them is up to you.

However, if you truly have an overflow of lemons, make lemonade. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been shocked to learn of how many people don’t know how. The method is quick and simple: Place 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan and boil until clear. Pour that into a pitcher along with 4 cups water and 1 cup of lemon juice for the best lemonade ever you’ve ever had.

If you want to add variety, throw a vanilla bean into the sugar-water solution while it cooks to add a creamy sweetness. Or, come spring, toss some stalks of fresh lavender into the pitcher for a subtle floral flavor. Personally, I also love to spike it with vodka or sake for a cocktail with pop to perk up the awfully overcast Sacramento winter.