Lemonade Without the Plastic, Please

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I love you, Simply Limeade, but I don’t know what to do with the plastic bottles that contain your citric concoction. I have used the bottles as watering cans, but inevitably I throw them away because they’re not the most visually appealing garden accessory. This irks me, because I am concerned with stretching the lifespan of all plastic that enters my home (I paint old jars or coffee canisters to use as miscellaneous receptacles, cart compost to the pile in single-use plastic containers, and let my son use old shampoo bottles to practice ‘pouring’ and ‘dumping’ skills).

A few weeks ago, my husband suggested we make limeade the ‘real’ way, by squeezing our own limes and adding the juice to water with some sugar. I shrugged my assent, and gathered supplies. Lime and lemon are reversed in English and Spanish. Lime is limón and lemon is lima. Limonada is a beverage made from either, but my husband is usually referring to limes. When in doubt, you can always use colors to describe the correct fruit (amarillo vs. verde). So, I asked my husband to run for a bag of each, interested in trying homemade limeade and lemonade. When my husband returned with one of those mesh bags (made from plastic, I fear) of limes, I decided that I would find a way to make the beverages without touching a single plastic bottle or bag.

This may seem an obvious way of making lemonade, but as a millennial, I have been trained to search for the cheapest, most convenient options when grocery-shopping for my family. This often means that I buy food wrapped in plastic packaging. That’s all there is anymore. These days, we have to seriously commit to leaving the plastic behind. I am doing this in small ways, one change at a time. Limeade without plastic is my most recent exciting discovery on my way to a sustainable life. I am inventing my own solutions.

What You Will Need

  1. In order for this recipe to matter as an alternative to plastics, some items are necessary. I have a plastic pitcher, but I stopped using it when my mother brought home an authentic, Blenko glass water pitcher. It is a beautiful green, pictured right. I am lucky to have received this gift, but other glass pitchers are easily found. This pitcher is what inspired me to continue my green-living journey with ambition.
  2. Gathering the limes yourself, and placing them into a reusable, preferably cotton or canvas, sack eliminates the need for those plastic, pull-down bags at the store (My worst enemy. I despise to see them on my counter). I found sustainable options on Amazon.
  3. Visit your local co-op to find vegetables and fruit that are not trucked from miles away to your nearest Walmart. I have yet to see limes or lemons at the co-op where I live, but you never know who is growing what. If you have a bright green thumb, and maybe a greenhouse, you just might be able to grow your own in a few years (My lemon tree experiment failed horribly).
  4. None of the utensils pictured are made from plastic, except the lemon squeezer. However, I’ll cut the contraption some slack because, without it, I’d be squeezing limes and lemons all day. It’s not single-use either, so it’s okay.
  5. Keep a large glass or ceramic bowl around for the spent limes. This can go to your compost pile, where they avoid the plastic bag of the garbage can.

Some Tips on Selecting and Squeezing los Limones

  • Look for limes with smooth skin. The smaller the ‘pores’ appear to be, the better. My husband, a connoisseur of cerveza and tequila, knows quite a bit about limes, and has relayed this information to me.
  • Wash the limes beforehand. I always wash what I am about to cut into because bacteria (and probably insecticides or preservatives) can be transferred to the inside by way of the knife.
  • Roll those little green limes around your cutting board before halving and squeezing. This helps loosen the juice, I guess.
  • Squeeze the limes cut-side down in the juicer. You can use any method here, however.

The Amounts

  • About one pound and a half of limes (or lemons), you may have to gauge this
  • One cup of sugar (you can control this, too)
  • Two cups of freshly squeezed lime juice (any more and you might cauterize your mouth)
  • As much ice and cold water as you’d like (pro tip: don’t use bottled water. Remember, stay away from the plastics by using tap water or a water filtration system) This pitcher holds about 2 liters of liquid. It doesn’t have measurements so I have to guess. If something seems off, simply change your amounts and try again
I even use a wooden spoon. See ya, plastic

As for freshness, the sooner you drink it the better, but its great taste has lasted in my fridge for about two days. Other drink recipes are possible, so be on the look-out for ways to use glass pitchers, cotton sacks, etc.!