Thursday, June 7, 2012

Roasted Cherry Lemonade

A year and a half ago, we moved from chilly, rainy Northwest Washington to the sunny coast of California.  I can't say that I'm all that broken up about it.  I hadn't realized how much I really thrive in the sun or how much of those UV rays I was actually missing living with gray skies 6 months of the year.  The funny thing was, when we first moved there I laughed at the locals who would throw on shorts the first sunny day that reached 65 degrees.  I thought they were crazy!  It goes without saying that by the end of my almost 9 years living there, I was one of those crazy people.  I learned that you've got to take advantage of those days when you can get them.
Fast forward a year and a half and I'm back to wearing long pants on those 65 degree days.  But I'm not complaining!  The cloudless blue skies and 75 degree days in December are so welcome after 9 years of grasping at every last bit of sunshine I could.  This truly is paradise to my sun-starved psyche. 
One of the few things I miss (other than the life-long friends I made) about the Pacific Northwest is the fruit.  Something about the climate makes for spectacular fruit.  The berries outshine any California berry I've ever had, especially the logan and Marion berries.  We didn't have berries in our yard, but we did have apple, pear and cherry trees.  My absolute favorites were the Ranier cherries.  You can pay 6 dollars a pound for the delicate, sweetness of those blushed beauties.  But I had them for free.  Standing in the yard, eating them straight from the tree- well, not much beats that.  If only I could have brought one of my trees here to California.  Then I could truly say this is the best place on Earth.

Roasted Cherry Lemonade
Makes one large pitcher.
For a printable version, click here.

This lemonade is a great balance of tart and sweet, made just a touch sweeter by the roasting of the cherries.  If you really want a more pronounced cherry flavor, you could puree the roasted cherries and mix them into the lemonade.  I liked the hint of cherry I got from steeping them in the hot simple syrup and crushing them a bit on the bottom of the pitcher.  This is the perfect antidote to the hot summer day.  For light cocktail, add a bit of sparkling wine to your glass.

1 lb pitted Ranier cherries
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup water
1 tbs lemon zest
1 cup lemon juice (from 5-6 lemons)
4 cups cold water

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Roast the cherries on a parchment lined baking sheet until they are lightly browned and their juices are bubbling, 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.

In a small saucepot, mix the sugar and 1 1/4 cups water.  Over medium high heat, bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves.  Pour the hot syrup into a pitcher and add the lemon zest and cherries.  Press on the cherries to lightly crush them and let the syrup steep until cool.  Add the lemon juice and cold water.  Refrigerate until cold.

Serve over ice with a slice of lemon.


  1. I love your lemonade recipe and just saw cherries at the market this morning, sounds like you enjoy Summer time, I know I do!

  2. I grew up in the Bay Area. We had cherry, apple, apricot, lemon, plum, nectarine, and guava trees. I bet you would be able to grow cherries! The lemonade sounds yummy.

  3. I probably would Allison. But convincing my husband to grow something not typically "Californian" is proving to be a tough sell. Maybe I can have you talk with him!