February in California sometimes feels like summer is just days away, and this past week was one of those weeks. The sandals came out of hibernation, the hanging chairs on the front porch got sat on for the first time in a few months, and Edie and Dot begged for ponderosa lemonade.
One of the things I fell in love with when we bought our new home is the ponderosa lemon tree I discovered tucked away by the stairs leading to the backyard. There are a lot of small trees around, and it’s pretty easy to miss. At only about 10 feet high, with one skinny trunk it’s pretty unassuming and tends to blend in with the rest of the yard.
Except for the fact that it grows gigantic lemons the size of grapefruits. And despite my lack of attention to it, it continues to thrive bringing us buckets of gigantic lemons every year to make everything from ponderosa lemonade to lemon tarts and lemon slush.
When we make ponderosa lemonade, Dot’s mostly along for the ride. I think the real reason Edie begs for it (besides the tart sweetness of course), is that it’s one of the few things Edie can make all by herself, with only a small amount of assistance from me.
Ponderosa lemons are hybrids between a citron and a lemon. They’re bumpy and tart, with huge seeds. Otherwise, they taste exactly like a lemon. If you pick them too early (which we tend to do), they’re very firm and hard to juice.
I like to imagine that’s how a regular lemon feels to a small child trying to juice it. Even with an adult hand you can barely get your grip around these beasts, let alone have the strength to squeeze its tough rind for nectar. So, I usually cut our ponderosa lemons in fourths to juice, unless we’ve had the patience to wait until late summer to pick them (which is hardly ever the case).
We had a bowl of overripe Meyer lemons a friend picked for us from her tree. They were super soft, and easy for Dot to juice so we added those in as well.
Next, sugar and water. Part of the fun is the taste testing so I usually start with about 1/4 cup of sugar and let them try it out (inevitably too sour). But that’s all part of the experience, tasting what we’re starting with and making some sweet from it.
The Miracle cup with the interchangeable tops are straight up genius. Our kids have used them in each of their stages. They’ve started with the traditional miracle lids at about 6 months (they’re no spill and you can suck from any spot!), then graduating to the Big Kid straw lid (Dot LOVES the straw), and eventually the Big Kid sipper lid (which Edie uses now).
Admittedly, I sometimes grab a Miracle Cup quick as a a water bottle when I’m heading out the door!
Cleanup! Both Edie and Dot can actually be really helpful in the kitchen if they have a specific age-appropriate sorting or cleaning task to do. Dot can empty the kid plates from the dishwasher into the low kid drawer, and Edie can help wash pretty effectively. These new Miracle Cup Brushes suction perfectly on the counter so they can’t get lost, and you always know where to find them.
Plus, having heart-shaped cleaning equipment, the Suds Up Cleaning Sponge, makes Edie (and myself) an even more enthusiastic kitchen cleaner.
Our ponderosa lemonade never lasts more than a few hours. Sometimes I add some seltzer juice into mine for a sparkling lemonade, and also some mint and raspberries. Here’s a tip, freeze your berries so you don’t have to add in ice which will end up just watering down your lemonade.
Hooray for endless California summers + endless batches of ponderosa lemonade!