The Perfect State Fair Lemonade Recipe

The Perfect State Fair Lemonade Recipe

Another thing we’ve really missed going to this year is the various state and county fairs across our region. From the famous Iowa State Fair to our local Scott County Fair, every single one has been cancelled. Some of them tried to continue online, but we didn’t find the experience even close to attending in person. We’re hoping for some normalcy to return by next summer and we’ll be able to drown ourselves in lemonade and corn dogs.

Speaking of lemonade, that’s the one thing we always purchase whenever we’re at a fair. There’s something refreshing about having a tall glass over ice that is made from actual lemons and not a flavored powder. Of course they’re expensive too! You can expect to spend $7 at our local fair for a full glass and even more at the state level. And we’re OK with it. But with the absence of fairs this year, we were craving our lemonade fix. Thanks to a new video by Chef John of Food Wishes, we were able to make a batch that tasted BETTER than any we’ve ever had! His posted recipe was a little inexact, so we wanted to update it to make each batch come out perfect the first time.

State Fair Lemonade Recipe

Ingredients (makes 3 quarts)

5lb bag of lemons (approx 14ct)
2.5 cups white sugar
12 cups filtered water

There may not be any state fairs going on in 2020, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on their best food item. This State Fair Lemonade recipe is one worth handing down! - SahmReviews.com

The secret to state fair lemonade is to use all of the lemon. Start by peeling the lemon with a vegetable peeler. Try to get as little of the white part as possible. It’s the yellow part of the rind that holds the lemon oil you’re after. If your lemons feel a little waxy (a common thing from store-bought lemons), give them a good wash under hot water before peeling.

There may not be any state fairs going on in 2020, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on their best food item. This State Fair Lemonade recipe is one worth handing down! - SahmReviews.com

Here comes the interesting part. After peeling, place all of the shavings into a bowl and add all of the sugar. Mix it thoroughly with your hands until everything is well-coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside (no need to refrigerate) for 9-12 hours! Yes, this is a long process, but well worth the effort and wait. Over the next few hours you will notice the dry sugar starts to pull out the oils from the lemon peels.

There may not be any state fairs going on in 2020, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on their best food item. This State Fair Lemonade recipe is one worth handing down! - SahmReviews.com

Once the rest time has passed (don’t cheat on the 9-12 hours!), bring a large pot of 12 cups of water to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and add the peels and oil/sugar mixture to the water. Stir the lemon ‘soup’ gently for about 5 minutes to make sure all of the sugar is completely dissolved.

There may not be any state fairs going on in 2020, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on their best food item. This State Fair Lemonade recipe is one worth handing down! - SahmReviews.com

At this point, our instructions differ a bit from that of Chef John. He suggests you strain the liquid of the rinds and add it back to the pot. Then you would squeeze in the lemon juice from the lemons. We suggest one alteration. If you’re like us, when you go to squeeze the lemons, you will inevitably get lemon seeds coming loose and falling in. This means you’ll need to pick them out or strain again. Let’s save a step.

There may not be any state fairs going on in 2020, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on their best food item. This State Fair Lemonade recipe is one worth handing down! - SahmReviews.com

After stirring the oil/sugar mixture in, begin squeezing all of the lemon juice into the same pot. It’s fine if large pieces of pulp fall in also since we’ll be straining at the end. After all 14 lemons have been relieved of their juice, now strain the entire mixture into either another pot or a large pitcher (be careful, the liquid may still be a little warm). Cover and let set on the counter to cool to room temperature before putting in the fridge.

This batch of state fair lemonade will be very strong. Not quite a concentrate, but one designed to be served over a full glass of ice. If you’re the type that doesn’t like ice in their drinks, feel free to add more water to taste to the recipe and chill. If you think you’re going to be extra thirsty, don’t hesitate to double the batch if you have room. It will go quick!

What is your favorite state fair food?

Scott

About Scott

A former manufacturing executive, Scott now balances his family life with ownership and backend administration of websites such as SahmReviews.com, GiftCardCollector.com and a number of other online properties. He also is an occasional writer and full-time board game fanatic.

22 comments on «The Perfect State Fair Lemonade Recipe»

  1. Mia E. says:

    Corn on the Cob is my favorite fair food.

  2. Sue E says:

    I love this lemonade recipe! I have to pin it!
    My husband loves the BBQ ribs.
    I love the funnel cake and the corn on the cob YUM

  3. Cheryl Markle-Bomar says:

    Funnel Cake is my favorite fair food!! Thanks!

  4. mel says:

    Corn dogs are my favorite fair foods!

  5. Judy Rittenhouse says:

    I like Cotton Candy and Funnel Cakes!

  6. Dena Akbar says:

    Funnel Cake is my favorite fair food!! Thanks!

  7. Heather Swanson says:

    lemonade so good for a sore throat

  8. Mia Rose says:

    I always get the Lemonade at the Fair. I didn’t realize how it is made.

  9. Donna L says:

    My favorite is cotton candy.

  10. Sue E says:

    My comment that I wrote earlier still stands! I still love my powdered sugar funnel cake and the corn on the cob (still in the stalk)!
    I am definitely going to make that lemonade. i think it will be worth the wait too.

  11. Pavlos says:

    Corn dogs yummm

  12. Sue E says:

    I’m smacking my thirsty lips now

  13. McKnight says:

    I always get Lemonade at the fair but my favorite thing to eat is the grilled corn on the cob.

  14. Ed says:

    Funnel cakes are my favourite!

  15. Jeanette Jackson says:

    I’ll have to try this with my grandchildren

  16. Jessica Peeling says:

    State fair lemonade is the best but always so pricey! This is a great alternative 🙂

  17. Pete Donegan says:

    Funnel cake is my go to fair food

  18. Jordan Binkerd says:

    Elephant ears for me!

  19. Frankie Pinnix says:

    My favorite state fair food is caramel apples!

  20. Ed says:

    Love a refreshing glass of lemonade!

  21. Kristy Reid says:

    I’ve never been to state fair. I’m hoping to go to the Alaska state fair in the near future. I would definitely try the lemonade though. I’ve had funnel cakes before and I love them so I’d probably get one of those too.

  22. Rajee Pandi says:

    My favorite is cotton candy.

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