Aunt Thale’s Lemonade Syrup is famous in my family. Examining the recipe and procedure, and realizing many people have similar recipes in their families, shows how recipes offer a world of history within their algorithms of procedure.
Aunt Thale (1911-2011) was one of my father’s younger sisters. She had her share of tragedy; her husband survived June 6, 1944 (D-Day) in World War II only to be killed in a training accident a couple of months later and she was left to raise her son as a single parent on the home farm. Her lemonade syrup, thinned out to taste and served ice cold is very nice on a hot summer’s day. Forty-five minutes of labour produces enough syrup for many gallons of lemonade.
Lemonade Syrup Ingredients: 12 lemons, 2 to 5 oranges, 2 oz. citric acid powder, 1 oz. tartaric acid powder (both of these ingredients are available at U-make wine stores), 6 pounds of sugar (12 cups) and 5 pints of boiling water (10 cups).
Grate the peel off the lemons and oranges. I use a special nylon mesh glove to protect my fingers while grating because I am very accident-prone. Squeeze the juice out of the lemons and oranges. Strain out the seeds.
Mix all ingredients except water together in a large bowl or pot (ceramic or stainless steel). Bring the water to boil and pour over the ingredients. Stir until dissolved. Then ladle into jars or sealers, cover and store in the refrigerator. The resulting syrup can be mixed about 1 part syrup to 6 parts water (or to taste).
Aunt Thale’s lemonade syrup recipe has stood up to the test of time. A lot of historical questions arise from it – who knows what a pint is any more, even if people claim they don’t use metric? How many tablespoons is an ounce of tartaric acid? How common would lemons have been in the 1930s, 40s and 50s when this recipe originated? What would happen if you left out the citric and tartaric acids? (It wouldn’t be as tangy). An Australian recipe uses Epsom salts; what would that be like?
Aunt Thale’s lemonade syrup recipe has stood up to the test of time.