Limonana is an easy mint lemonade from the Levantine/Middle East region. It comes together in no time, and the mint makes it extra refreshing - just what a warm summer's day needs.
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Being brought up in the UK, lemonade meant Sprite/7-UP and similar sodas/fizzy drinks. Then when I first came across what lemonade was in the US, all I could think was the classic American image of selling it on street corners.
Then I thought about it more. I realized it's really the same as the citron pressé I loved when we were in France as a child. Sometimes with additional flavors, like watermelon lemonade or cherry lemonade. And many more countries have their own take on enjoying lemon in drinkable form.
If you think about it, it's no surprise that in many places around the world where lemons are grown, some form of lemon drink is popular in the summer. Lemon is, after all, very refreshing and it's a great way to use the popular crop. Lemons are high in vitamin C and said to help digestion, amongst other things.
What are the origins of limonana?
Limonana is believed to have originated in Turkey or Syria. It's popular across the Levantine region from Lebanon and Israel to Cyprus and Egypt. The main way it is different from a "classic" lemonade is that it is made with mint.
Mint is also a popular ingredient in the region. It is probably most popularly known as one of the herbs in tabbouleh salad, but you'll find it in many dishes and used as a garnish. It adds a lovely freshness that's perfect in a hot climate.
Where does the name come from?
Limonana is a combination of the words "limon" meaning lemon in both Arabic and Hebrew, and "nana" meaning mint. The name first became popular in Israel due to an advertising campaign in the 1990s for a lemon and mint soft drink, apparently. However it is believed to have been used elsewhere before, given the older origins of the drink.
Simple, but with variations
Limonana is very easy, though it can be made in a few ways. Some make it with lemonade concentrate to speed things up, but that's definitely not the more traditional way which starts with fresh ingredients.
Originally, the mint would have been chopped by hand and then the drink served over ice. More typically these days, however, you add the mint leaves to a blender along with ice to make more of a slushie.
With all that lemon, you need a little sweetener. You can simply add sugar in with the other ingredients in the blender, but it may not fully dissolve. The better way, if you can, is to make a simple syrup ahead of time and use this instead. That's the way I have described here.
You can make simple syrup ahead and it will keep for some time. You can easily make a larger batch to use for another batch or other drinks. As well as using it for lemonades like this, it is useful to keep on hand if you enjoy making your own cocktails.
This mint lemonade is easy to make and wonderfully refreshing. The mint adds not only a wonderful freshness but a great layer of flavor, taking this classic summer drink up a notch. It's definitely a family favorite for us on a warm day - make it yours too.
Try these other refreshing drinks:
- Watermelon agua fresca with coconut
- Hibiscus tea (agua de jamaica)
- Blueberry lemonade
- Cantaloupe agua fresca
- Horchata de chufa (Spanish tiger nut milk)
- Plus get more drinks recipes in the archives.
Limonana (mint lemonade)
For the simple syrup
- ½ cup sugar 100g
- ½ cup water 120ml
To make lemonade
- 1 cup water 240ml
- 1 cup lemon juice 240ml, freshly squeezed from 4-5 large lemons
- ½ cup mint leaves relatively well packed, around 60 leaves
- 2 cups ice cubes to fill jug to around 500ml
For simple syrup (can be made ahead)
- Put the sugar and ½ cup water in a small pan and warm over gentle heat until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
To make lemonade
- Put the simple/sugar syrup, lemon juice, remaining water, mint leaves and ice cubes in a blender and blend until the mint leaves are well chopped up and everything is well combined. It will be slightly frothy.
- Pour into glasses and serve.
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I first shared the post for Limonana (Middle Eastern mint lemonade) on Curious Cuisiniere where I am a contributor.