Guide to SKOPJE

THE SKOPJE – ATHENS LEMONADE

MK TR GR

Many years ago, during my visit to a Skopje suburb, a friend’s grandmother offered me an amazing lemon/orangeade.
lem1It had a wonderful fragrant and slight bitterish taste, because of the lemon and orange peel she included in its preparation. But I think the secret of her success was that the fruit came straight from her orchard – upon sharing her recipe she made a point to “make sure you do not use fruit with pesticides!”. So if you are not lucky enough to have an orchard for yourself or access to one, organic fruit from the market would be the alternative.

lem2Since then I have experimented a lot with this recipe. Added cinnamon and clover, ginger and nutmeg or improvised with other citrus fruit either on their own or combined (bergamot, bitter orange, grapefruit, lime etc); once I even added some sour cherry syrup for the sake of coloration. Yet, I concluded that there’s nothing like the good and modest lemon. Lemons alone give the best and purest flavor. After all there’s a reason why home-made lemonade is the most popular refreshing drink of the summer! Especially for the case of heat waves, the only addition I found appropriate was some fresh lemon juice to dilute the sugary taste. And maybe a touch of mint – but even that you can leave out.

Here it is then, the Athenian version of a Skopje refreshing drink.

lem33INGREDIENTS

6 medium-sized lemons
750 gr sugar
water
6-8 fresh mint leaves (optional)

PREPARATION

Rinse 4 of the lemons, wipe dry well and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Cut them in pieces and remove the pits (leave peel intact). Place them in a blender and mince to a pulp. Squeeze the juice out of the 2 remaining lemons and keep aside.
Pour the sugar into a large pot and add water just enough to cover it. Add the mint leaves if you are using them. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, discard the mint and add the lemon pulp and juice. At this stage you may want to check the sugar amount, adding some to taste if necessary.
Pour 2 liters of cold water into the pot, cover with the lid and let stand for 4 hours. Strain through a sieve and through a gauze or cheesecloth into glass bottles. Seal the bottles and place in the fridge.

The lemonade can keep well for about 2 weeks.

lem4

To serve add a lot of ice and decorate with sprigs of mint.

Enjoy!

Sophia Nikolaou

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