Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recipe: Brazilian Lemonade

For my last graduate retreat we went to Tucanos Brazilian Grill in Provo. They gave us a Brazilian lemonade to drink (actually, it was a limeade, but they insisted on calling it a lemonade). It was really good. So, with a little help from this blog, I've recreated the recipe. Along the way, I'll point out how this bears a striking resemblance to the preparation of an alcoholic drink, called absinthe, which was until recently illegal.[1][2]

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 4 limes
  • 1 lemon
  • 5 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

Start with the water.

Dissolve the sugar in the water. (It is surprisingly hard to take a good picture of sugar being dumped.)

Cut the limes and lemon into eighths.

Squeeze the juice into the sugar water (this is so much easier with a lime squeezer—invest). Try to exclude as much of the pulp as possible.

At this point you'll notice the formation of a green layer at the top of the water. This is similar to a green layer that forms at the top of absinthe as water is poured over a sugar cube into the alcohol. Absinthe aficionados will imbibe this green layer before finishing the preparation of their drink, but we're just going to move on to the next step.

Go ahead and stir in the lime juice and lemon juice. Chill for one hour.

Add the sweetened condensed milk [3] and stir thoroughly. The limeade will take on a creamy appearance, called a louche. In the case of absinthe this happens because the addition of water causes oil-soluble compounds from the ingredients of absinthe (wormwood, anise, and fennel) to come out of solution. In our case it's because we added an oily substance (milk).

Serve with ice.[4] This doesn't store very well (the citric acid curdles the milk), so drink immediately.

Before I let you go, let me introduce you to citric acid (on the left) and limonene (on the right), two of the chemicals in lemons and limes (and oranges, for that matter) that are most responsible for their tart and delicious flavor.


[1] You can see what preparing absinthe looks like here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Preparing_absinthe.jpg.

[2] Absinthe was illegal because it was believed that a compound, called thujone, was hallucinogenic. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this, so it is becoming legal, including in the U.S. Since it's alcoholic, Latter-day Saints won't drink it either way. To learn more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absinthe.

[3] This will probably sound weird to you. It did to me, at first, too. But trust me on this. It will be delicious!

[4] I usually hate ice with my drinks because it clacks against my teeth and prevents me from drinking as fully as I'd like to. And at restaurants it means they can charge you for a full glass of beverage but only give you 1/3 of what you paid for. So (when I remember) I ask for no ice. But in this case the ice makes the experience so much better.

Image attributions:


  1. A scientific cooking blog. I'm in awe.

  2. I really enjoyed eating at Tucanos, the one time I went. All you can eat BBQ meats! So good. So, so good.

    And almost worth a trip to Utah...