Why It Works
- Maceration allows the rinds to express their natural oil, creating a more aromatic drink.
- This no-cook technique dissolves sugar without any need for firing up the stove.
- Weight measurements ensure the perfect ratio of sugar to lime, despite natural variations in fruit size.
- From the bowl and strainer to the pitcher, nonreactive equipment prevents the flavor of the lime from turning harsh.
With only two ingredients (three if you count water), this fresh limeade couldn't be any simpler. It's based on the technique for my no-cook Fresh Lemon Syrup, harnessing the power of citric acid to dissolve sugar without heat, while capturing the intense flavor of the limes' essential oils. The result is a limeade with tons more lime flavor than one made with just juice and sugar.
- 3 pounds (1.3kg) limes (12 to 16 medium limes)
- 14 ounces sugar (2 cups; 400g)
- 24 ounces cold water (3 cups; 700ml)
Bring limes to room temperature, then roll firmly against the counter to soften their rinds. Halve and juice; set juice aside. Cut rinds into 1-inch chunks. Toss with sugar in a large nonreactive mixing bowl, cover tightly with plastic, and let stand at room temperature, stirring once every 45 minutes or so, until sugar has completely dissolved, about 3 hours. (You can let the mixture stand up to 12 hours, if desired.)
Add water and 6 ounces (3/4 cup; 180ml) of reserved lime juice. Stir well, then strain through a nonreactive fine-mesh strainer or piece of cheesecloth into a glass or ceramic container. At this point, the concentrated limeade can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
When ready to serve, pour limeade over ice and adjust to taste with additional water or lime juice, depending on personal preference; bear in mind, though, that the limeade will be diluted as the ice melts. (You will likely have some fresh lime juice left over, which can be reserved for another use, though exactly how much you have will depend on how much you added to adjust the limeade.)
Cheesecloth or nonreactive fine-mesh strainer, two-quart pitcher
If you like, some or all of the limes can be zested beforehand and reserved for another baking project. A lime twist on Lemon Meltaways, perhaps? Leftover juice can be used to make a lime variation on Lemon Bars as well.