Freshly squeezed juices, especially those of citrus fruits, are very common and very popular in the summer and especially in hot countries like Tunisia. Every summer season, the houses are filled with oranges and lemons, which are widely used to create fresh homemade lemonades. Discover the history of Tunisian lemonade as well as the best traditional recipe to cool off on hot days!
A bit of history
The origins of lemonade date back to medieval Egyptian times. The first reference to what we now call lemonade was reported around the 12th century. The drink was known as qatarmizat, a simple solution of lemon juice sweetened with sugar. Although the citrus fruit has its roots in Asian countries, the earliest written evidence of this summer drink can be found in Egyptian records written by the Persian poet and traveler Nasir-i-Khusraw.
Lemonades or lemonades can be categorized into two types: cloudy lemonades and clear lemonades. Homemade versions made with sugar syrup and lemon juice are known as cloudy or traditional lemonade, while clear lemonade is a soft drink sold in markets.
What makes the Tunisian lemonade recipe so special?
Tunisian lemonade is a little different from classic lemonade. Unlike popular American lemonades, it is fruitier, less acidic and more labor-intensive to prepare. The special thing about Tunisian lemonade is that it uses the whole fruit, including the peel. While most lemonade recipes use only the juice from the lemon, this lemonade only removes the white pith and seeds. This gives more body and flavor to the drink.
The next surprise element is the addition of orange blossom water, which makes this lemonade unique. Water is distilled with the essence of orange blossoms to form this fruity essence. In North African cuisine, orange blossom water is often added to thirst-quenching drinks such as juice, sorbet, fruit syrups and generously drizzled over fruit salads such as Moroccan orange and lemon salad, cinnamon. The Arabs appreciated the fruit of the orange. They brought the trees back from Asia (like the lemons) and the plants easily adapted to the Mediterranean climate.
From cakes to pastries, crackers to savory dishes, the combination of orange blossom water and lemon as a flavoring agent is present everywhere in Tunisian cuisine. Yoyo, samsa and harissa hloua are some examples. In most cases, orange blossom water can be substituted for rose water and can be used interchangeably as they have the same flavor profile.
Tunisian lemonade recipe
Important points for a successful lemonade recipe:
– Remove the core from the lemon and remove the pith completely, as it tastes very bitter. This will change the entire flavor profile of the lemonade.
– Use a good blender to grind the pulp completely. This ensures maximum extraction and reduces wastage when sifting the pulp.
– Adjust the water content and sugar syrup according to the acidity of the citrus fruit.
Here is the recipe for 10 people, which takes a total of about an hour to prepare!
– 1 kg of organic lemons
– 1 ¼ cup of sugar
– ¾ cup water (for cooking)
– 10 cups cold water (to dilute)
– 2 tablespoons of orange blossom water
Equipment – Blender and cheese mousse
1. Wash the lemons and cut both ends.
2. Peel the lemons with a peeler to get the peel (without the pith).
3. Use a knife to carefully remove the pith that covers the entire surface of the peeled fruit.
4. Cut the lemons into thin slices and remove the seeds.
5. Put the lemon zest and sugar in a pan and pour ¾ cup (200 ml) of water over it. Mix well, bring to a boil over high heat.
6. Lower the heat and simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes. After these 30 minutes there should be almost no water left.
7. 10 minutes before the end of cooking, add the lemon slices and mix well.
8. Pour the mixture into a blender and add half of the cold water and the orange blossom water.
9. Blend at full speed for 3 minutes.
10. Put the blender jug in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
11. Strain the lemonade through a very fine sieve or cheesecloth.
12. Add the rest of the cold water and mix well.
13. Add water if the lemonade seems too sweet or too thick.
14. Serve lemonade very cold.
It is the white pith that can give lemonade a lot of bitterness. It is therefore necessary to obtain the pulp by completely removing all the white skin (pill) and get the peel in the same way. Patience and the quality of the peeler is very important.