Canning lemonade is an easy way to make sure you always have a refreshing beverage on hand when you need it. Store your jars in the pantry, and quickly pour the contents over ice for a cool drink anytime.
Homemade lemonade is so much better than storebought powders and concentrates, but it’s a pain to make when you just want a cold drink now.
When I’ve been working all afternoon in the garden, and I come in looking for a quick drink, I just want something cold and refreshing in a hurry. I don’t want to be meddling around with melting sugar on the stove and juicing lemons.
Even if I did have the patience to make a batch fresh right in the middle of summer, lemon season is in the winter…and all the best lemons are harvested in January!
By canning homemade lemonade (and lemonade concentrate), I can take those fresh winter lemons and transport them in time to my summertime kitchen. I get the taste of freshly made lemonade at a moment’s notice. All you have to do is remember to take a jar of lemonade off the pantry shelf and pop it in the refrigerator before I go out to work in the garden. It’ll be right there waiting for you when you need a break.
If you’re canning for a crowd, then canning lemonade concentrate works even better. A single half-pint jar of lemonade concentrate will make three pints of fresh lemonade when added to cold water.
Canning Lemonade vs. Lemonade Concentrate
You can either can ready made lemonade in a jar, or lemonade concentrate. Both work out wonderfully, and it really depends on your family’s needs.
Most people opt to can lemonade concentrate simply because it uses fewer jars than canning ready-made lemonade. It doesn’t take up extra space on the pantry shelf just storing water, and you still get all the flavor of fresh lemonade at a moment’s notice. A single half-pint (1 cup) jar of lemonade concentrate is added to 5 to 6 cups of water to make roughly 3 pints of fresh lemonade.
Personally, I like the convenience of coming into a ready-made jar of lemonade just waiting for me in the refrigerator. I rarely need 3 pints of lemonade at once, but I absolutely love having a single cold pint ready to go in the middle of a hot day.
I have plenty of jars, and I don’t worry about canning the extra water. In fact, I actually can water for emergencies, and I always keep around 50 quarts of plain water canned in my basement for power outages and other times when the well pump just isn’t working. If you’re in the city, it’s not a bad idea either, as boil water notices happen all the time, and it’s easy enough just to open up a jar of home canned water when you want a drink.
Since I’m already storing water in jars for emergencies, I don’t think it’s a big deal to store ready-made lemonade for the same purpose. I’m happy to have the extra water on hand when I need it, and I don’t mind if it uses up extra jars.
Either way, the choice is up to you. The canning instructions for lemonade and lemonade concentrate are the same, the only difference is how much lemon and sugar goes into a batch. The process starts the same, and the only real difference is one is diluted by adding water before canning, and the other one afterward.
Ratio for Lemonade
The exact ratio for homemade lemonade is up to you, at least to an extent.
If you’re canning plain lemonade, you’ll need to use at least 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice per pint jar. That’s to ensure that the mixture is acidic enough for canning. You cannot can sugar water with a “hint of lemon,” it does need to have a good bit of fresh lemon juice in it to ensure the pH drops low enough for canning.
The most commonly accepted basic recipe for lemonade is:
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 cups water (plus ice for serving)
To make lemonade concentrate for canning, you simply dissolve equal parts of lemon juice and sugar by volume. You’re basically making a lemon juice simple syrup here, with 1 cup lemon juice and 1 cup sugar.
To make ready-made lemonade for canning, you’ll want 1 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and 6 cups water. That should yield about 4 pints of ready-made lemonade, and each pint will have about 1/4 cup of lemon juice.
Making Lemonade for Canning
Most canning recipes specify “bottled lemon juice,” but this one’s different. It can be made with bottled lemon juice, but it tastes MUCH better if made with fresh lemon juice. The reason bottled lemon juice is often used in canning recipes is that it’s standardized for acidity, and fresh lemon juice can be slightly less acidic than bottled.
This recipe is designed to take that into account, and the mixture will still be acidic enough for canning with fresh lemon juice.
Bottled lemon juice can get bitter and take on a “tinny” taste in storage, and it won’t taste nearly as good. Fresh lemon juice, especially if the lemons are juiced right before canning, is exactly what you want when canning lemonade.
Start by juicing the lemons, and then put the juice through a fine mesh sieve to remove any seeds and pulp. The lemon pulp can make home-canned lemonade bitter, so you’ll want to filter that out.
Measure the resulting lemon juice, and add equal parts sugar by volume to make lemonade concentrate.
(An average lemon yields about 1/4 cup of fresh juice, but they can vary considerably, so measure before canning.)
To make ready-made lemonade, you’ll want to add about 6 cups of water per cup of lemon juice too. You can reduce this amount to make a stronger lemonade if you’d like, but do not increase the amount of water added beyond 6 cups water per cup of lemon juice.
The sugar is not required for preservation and is just in there for flavor. Feel free to reduce or increase the sugar as you please. Honey or maple can also be used in place of plain white sugar.
Tips for the Best Home Canned Lemonade
For the absolute best home canned lemonade, be sure to:
- Strain the pulp, as it can turn bitter during canning
- Use fresh lemon juice (not bottled)
- Test your recipe first. Lemonade is personal, some like more sugar, some more lemon, etc.
The last thing I’ll suggest is zesting the lemons into your sugar first, and allowing the zest to infuse into the sugar for an hour or two before continuing. Lemon zest has an incredible lemon flavor, and the sugar can pick up the intense lemon oil flavor from the zest. It’ll make your home canned lemonade taste intensely of lemon…without all the extra tartness from more lemon juice.
Simply zest the lemons (organic if possible) and mix the zest with sugar.
It is important to strain out the zest before canning, but you can do that simply by dissolving the sugar in your lemon juice and then straining everything before canning.
Canning Lemonade (& Concentrate)
Whether you’re canning lemonade or lemonade concentrate, the instructions and process times are the same.
(Reminder, do not use less than 1/4 cup of lemon juice per pint jar, or 1/2 cup per quart.)
Prepare a water bath canner, jars, lids, and rings before beginning. The canner should be preheated for hot pack, and it should be simmering at around 180 to 190 F when the jars are loaded.
Lemonade and lemonade concentrate can be canned in half pints, pints, or quart jars.
Strain all the ingredients into a saucepan and gently warm the mixture to around 190 F. This should be barely simmering, but not boiling. Boiling the lemonade at this point will cause the natural pectin in your lemon juice to set, which can cause unsightly clumping in the jars (it’s still safe to drink if that happens, it just looks funny).
Ladle the hot (but not boiling) lemonade into canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Seal the jars with 2 part canning lids and process in a water bath canner.
Half pints, pints, and quarts are processed for 10 minutes below 1,000 feet in elevation.
Altitude adjustments for canning lemonade – Between 1,000 feet and 6,000 feet, process for 15 minutes. Above 6,000 feet, process jars for 20 minutes.
Lemonade Canning Variations
This basic lemonade recipe is a simple, no-fuss way to can lemonade for your pantry shelf.
There are a number of other variations in canning books that include fruit puree from other fruits. The canning recipe for strawberry lemonade concentrate in the Ball Book of Home Canning is probably the most well-known.
Be aware that if you add fruit puree to your lemonade, the canning time is considerably longer, and it’s not tested for canning in jars larger than pints. The fruits added should all be acidic enough for canning on their own as well.
If you add fruit juice (instead of puree), then you should still be able to use this recipe, provided the fruit juice is acidic enough for canning. (Ie. Watermelon juice is not acidic enough for canning.) Good choices would be berry juices, cherry juice, or other high acid flavorful juices that are approved for canning on their own.
Lemon Canning Recipes
Looking for a few more ways to preserve lemons?
- Canning Lemons (3 ways)
- Freezing Lemon Juice
- Preserved Lemons (Salt Preserved Lemons)
- Lemon Wine
- Limoncello (Lemon Liqueur)
Canning lemonade is an easy way to have fresh lemonade right on your pantry shelf.
Lemonade Concentrate Ratio
- 1 cup lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 cups water
- Prepare a water bath canner, jars and lids before beginning.
- If using lemon zest, start by zesting the lemons into the sugar. Stir and allow the mixture to sit for about an hour before proceeding. Remember that the lemon zest will need to be strained out before canning, and the easiest way to do that is to dissolve the sugar into the lemon juice and then strain the mixture before canning. (Zest is optional, but it adds amazing lemon flavor to the mixture. Use organic lemons if using the zest.)
- Juice the lemons. Strain the juice to remove pulp and seeds and then measure the resulting juice. For every cup of lemon juice, add 1 cup of sugar. (If canning lemonade instead of concentrate, also add 6 cups of water.)
- Gently warm the lemon juice and sugar mixture on the stove until it reaches around 190 F (do not boil).
- Ladle the hot but not boiling lemonade mixture into prepared canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Seal with 2 part canning lids to finger tight.
- Half pints, pints, and quarts are processed for 10 minutes below 1,000 feet in elevation.
- Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the canner for an additional 5 minutes to cool slightly before removing them with a canning jar lifter to cool completely on a towel on the counter.
- Wait 12 to 24 hours, then check seals. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use. Properly canned and sealed jars may be stored in the pantry. Refrigerate after opening.
This recipe is written as a ratio of ingredients for canning lemonade or lemonade concentrate. It can be increased as much as you'd like to meet your desired yield.
Altitude adjustments for canning lemonade
Between 1,000 feet and 6,000 feet, process for 15 minutes. Above 6,000 feet, process jars for 20 minutes.
Changing the Recipe
You can adjust sugar to your tastes, it's not required for preservation. Feel free to increase or decrease the sugar, or substitute in maple syrup or honey. Do not reduce the amount of lemon juice. When canning lemonade, you'll need a minimum of 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice per pint jar. (Or 2 tbsp per half pint, or 1/2 cup per quart)
Everything must be strained out before canning. Do not can lemonade with pulp, seeds, or zest. It needs to be a liquid for canning, without any solids.
Summer Canning Recipes
Looking for more easy canning recipes that are perfect for summertime?
Drink Canning Recipes
Lemonade isn’t the only drink you can put in a jar!