When the inevitable heat and humidity of summer arrive in the American South, it sure helps to have a refreshing beverage at arm’s length. This recipe for sweet homemade Orangeade is one of our favorite choices to quench our thirst.
I first saw orangeade made with freshly-squeezed oranges at Charlie’s, a pharmacy and soda fountain in Mount Holly, North Carolina, when I was a teenager. After seeing the process, I had to buy a cup. The first sip was magical, and I’ve loved the experience of each taste ever since.
This recipe, like Charlie’s, uses the same old-school method of squeezing juicy oranges and achieves the same end result of a drink with always-satisfying fresh flavor.
It’s likely you already have most of what you need to make the drink in your kitchen. Just pick up a half-dozen fresh oranges at your favorite market, and you’re ready to go. Be sure to allow time for the beverage to chill before serving for optimal refreshment!
Sweet Homemade Orangeade
What You Need:
2 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (from 6 to 8 juicy navel oranges)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed or pre-packaged)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
5 cups water or club soda*
*see note below in directions
What You Do:
1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 1/2 cups water. Heat until sugar has dissolved to make a simple syrup. Mix in vanilla and salt.
2. Into a large pitcher, squeeze orange and lemon juices. If you have enough oranges, save at least one to slice for garnish for your glasses.
3. Pour syrup over juice in pitcher.
*4. Add 5 cups water and stir. Refrigerate for at least an hour to chill. If serving immediately, you can use 5 cups club soda for fizziness. If chilling first, you can add small amounts of club soda to each glass when serving to add a bit of fizziness.
5. Serve drinks over ice with a straw and orange wedge on each.