Not Your Ordinary Lemonade Stand


Hand Made Lemonade – because summer doesn’t have to end with Labour Day.

My husband is riding on the Tour de North Cycle tour with Cops for Cancer in BC this year. This is a momentous task  —over 800km in 7 days— which means that he is cycling 100 km a week to prepare. Another part of his preparation is to fundraise with the proceeds going to Camp Goodtime and cancer research. The reason for this inspired adventure is our daughter, Zoe, who at the age of 6 found out that she had ovarian cancer. Zoe has been cancer free for 5 years now, and she is very excited about the fundraising campaign to help other children.

So, this year a week before our music festival —Grizfest— she asked her dad if she could run a lemonade stand at the event as a fundraiser. They proceeded to send a letter to the committee asking if they could have permission and then informing me of the plan. OH DEAR! Lemonade at an event is still food, and thus needs a food safety plan, a food safe person on site, a food permit, and nothing can be made in our own home.

Plus they (the father daughter team) wanted to do more than simply mix lemon flavoured powder with water and serve it up  à la normal lemonade stand for a child. No, they’ve been watching their mom and her experiments and fancy drinks. So they wanted to do it up grand! Yup, with lemon juice, sugar syrup and individually made drinks for customers using my fancy shakers. So mom (that’s me!) got involved and we all sat down and came up with a compromise that would provide the customer with individual hand made lemonade while working within a food safe setting that would let our plan get passed by the health inspector. Some compromise was necessary, and some testing ensued to find the perfect balance between sweet and sour, but in the end we came up with a recipe for handmade lemonade using ingredients we could purchase at the grocery store —so no making ingredients at home— and could be replicated in a field under a tent with no electricity or running water.

Zoe was thrilled as she was given permission by the health inspector to proceed and could even mix the drinks herself, and we raised $450 for Cops for Cancer and sold out of our stock. We even threw in a second “high end” choice and added Raspberry Lemonade with real (frozen) red raspberries muddled into the mix.

The How to

So if you ever want to make handmade lemonade with your kids and let them have a go at helping out here is the how to list.

  1. The Ingredients: First things first – without making anything at home, what ingredients can we mix together cheaply to make a fantastic lemonade? With the ideal sweetening agent (sugar syrup) not being available to purchase I suggested using berry sugar which is finer than granulated, and hopefully would dissolve in the water with some shaking. Lo and behold, it was a success! The second concern was the element of practicality – fresh squeezed lemon juice was not going to work as there was too much waste and slowed the process,  so we settled on bottled lemon juice (but the good stuff: Real Lemon brand). After that it was just a matter of adjusting the amount of each along with the water and ice to get the perfect balance between sweet and tangy. We added a wedge of lemon for garnish, a straw and were ready for mass production.
  2. A food permit. Your local health inspector will have a list of what is required to get the go ahead. Basics normally include having food safe or someone with food safe on premise, creating a food safety plan, and having the appropriate working environment. As home kitchens are not food safe for selling stuff for profit I would recommend keeping this to a front yard endeavour and you won’t need to worry about a permit.
  3. A work station. Even a front yard space needs somewhere for the “vendor” to sell their wares. For us we used a first up tent just to keep it contained,  but the more important part was a plastic portable table to work on and coolers to hold the ingredients. If you use the hand made approach hands get sticky. I really liked the hand washing station recommended by our health inspector and plan on using that for our camping trips from now on. All that is required is a small bench/stool, a bucket, a roll of paper towel, pump hand soap and a coleman (or other brand) 5 gallon water carrier. Fill the water carrier with hot water from your sink, prop it on it’s side on the bench, put a bucket under to catch the dirty water and stick the towels and soap on the bench beside it. Instant running water and hand washing station!
  4. The tools. To make individual recipes we wanted to measure our ingredients like a pro as we mixed them, so jiggers or something that could measure ounces was required. I settled on the 2 oz red disposable shot cups that were chap and plentiful for the liquid ingredients, and some plastic measuring cups for the dry ingredients. Another compromise was our shakers: in our testing phase we realized quickly that the standard martini shaker wasn’t going to be roomy enough to adequately mix the volume of ingredients we were serving. (Did I mention our cup size was the big red solo cup?) The other challenge was that our sweetener needed to dissolve. This meant that there was a whole lot of shakin goin’ on! The solution: Ziplock twist and lock 32 oz round storage containers, which were perfect for this, lots of room and no spilling as you shake. My husband picked up “The Mason Shaker” for me as a bonus, it’s size is ideal for larger drinks and it worked beautifully. Along with that we used a cocktail strainer, standard cocktail shaker base (for measuring ice & water) a knife and cutting board to slice up fresh lemons for garnish and squeeze bottles to make pouring lemon juice simpler.

Ok so what is the perfect recipe? Well that normally depends on how sweet or sour you like your lemonade but here is a way to have both options.

Hand Made Lemonade (Traditional)

  • 2 oz bottled lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup berry sugar
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup water (approx.)
  • 1/8 wedge lemon (or 1/4 if you prefer)

Measure and pour lemon juice and sugar into a ziplock or mason shaker. Measure ice to fill half of the bottom of a standard martini shaker (a plastic 2 cup shaker/measuring cup works well too) and add water to just cover the ice. Pour this into the larger shaker, seal and shake shake shake!

Here is the choice part: if you prefer a more tart lemonade strain the lemonade over fresh ice half filling a 16 oz cup and top with water if needed. If you prefer a sweeter lemonade pour the entire contents of shaker (ice and all) into the 16 oz cup and top with water if needed. What’s the diff? There will be some undissolved sugar clinging to the ice in the shaker giving the second option a sweeter flavour. Either way top with a wedge of lemon squeezed and then dropped into the cup, add a straw and smile at your new happy customer as you pass the drink to them.

Their Thoughts

Sold Out!! We ran the lemonade stand for two days – each day for 5 hours and had many return customers. In total we used 6 bottles of lemon juice, 5 bags of berry sugar, 16 bags of ice and 1 1/2 bags of lemons. I figure we served 125 lemonades over the two day period.

This project was designed for my 12 year old and she can now replicate it at home with ease. For a younger age group I would recommend adult supervision just to avoid too much “wasted” ingredients due to spillage and to control the number of times they forget not to lick their fingers!

Happy Labour Day!

One thought on “Not Your Ordinary Lemonade Stand

  1. I never cease to stand AMAZED at your creativity and brilliance!! This is another example of Colette-inspired ingenuity !! WELL DONE and good for Zoe, too! Best wishes to Trent in his upcoming ride. May God deliver cures for all those we know with cancer.


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