how to make

State Fair Lemonade

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State Fair lemonade, also known as old-fashioned lemonade, embodies a nostalgic essence reminiscent of summer days spent at agricultural fairs and festivals.

Its history is rooted in traditional methods of extracting intense lemon flavors from citrus peels. This approach likely developed over time as a means to maximize the flavor potential of lemons, emphasizing the aromatic oils found in the zest.

The drink is particularly popular at state fairs across regions known for their vibrant celebrations of local agriculture, where vendors strive to offer authentic, refreshing beverages to attendees seeking a taste of tradition and quality ingredients.

Image of dish State Fair Lemonade


  • 6 lemons, washed thoroughly
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 5 cups cold fresh water


Prepare the Lemon Peel Sugar (Oliosacrum)

  • Wash and peel the zest from all 6 lemons using a vegetable peeler, ensuring to avoid peeling too deeply into the white pith.
  • Place the lemon peels in a bowl and mix thoroughly with the white granulated sugar.
  • Allow the mixture to sit for 2 to 12 hours to extract oils from the lemon peel, creating an oily sugar mixture.

Infuse with Hot Water

  • In a saucepan, bring 5 cups of cold fresh water to a boil.
  • Remove from heat as soon as it boils, then immediately add the lemon peel sugar mixture into the hot water.
  • Stir well until the sugar is fully dissolved, then let it steep for about 5 minutes to infuse flavors.

Add Fresh Lemon Juice

  • Strain the infused mixture into a bowl to remove lemon peels and any solids.
  • Allow the strained liquid to cool to room temperature.
  • Once cooled, squeeze the juice from the peeled lemons into the mixture, using a strainer to catch seeds.
  • Adjust sweetness and tartness by adding more sugar or lemon juice to taste.

Chill and Serve

  • Transfer the lemonade into a serving pitcher, cover, and refrigerate until well chilled.
  • Serve the lemonade over ice cubes for a refreshing drink.