Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Lemonade

'Kids today..." That's the tagline for my great-aunt Gladys. She's 75 and full of energetic complaint. Not a visit goes by when she doesn't train her sights on "kids today." "Are too lazy; watch too much TV; dress like slobs; dress like harlots; don't show respect" -- you get the idea. So imagine my surprise when I caught myself murmuring "kids today" last Saturday, as I drove away from a local lemonade stand. In my hand was a halfheartedly filled cup, and what was inside was watery, too sweet, and clearly prepackaged. And it had run me $.75 . When I was a kid with a lemonade stand, I made sure I squeezed some lemons and made real lemonade. The customer wasn't just paying for my time behind the counter; the customer was paying for honest materials and honest labor -- lemons and sugar, water and ice, slicing, squeezing, mixing, chilling. "It wouldn't be so bad if the stuff at least tasted good," I complained to Patrick. "What's a kid to do?" he replied. "Not everyone has a lemon tree in their back yard." That set me off on a jag. I spent the rest of the day scooping up powdered lemonade mixes. Surely modern science had advanced to the point of giving the world powdered lemonade that tasted something like the real thing?

We wound up with three categories: sugar-free, sugar-in, and sugar-needed (to which you add your own). We started with the sugar-free, afraid we wouldn't be able to taste them otherwise. Candidate one, Vons Lemonade Lite ( $3.05 for 3.2 oz.; makes 12 quarts), veered toward the Lite end of things. "There's no acid," grumbled Patrick. "Maybe a little zing up front, but no acid in the middle or back of the palate. None of that lemon tartness you want in a cool, refreshing drink. Up front, it tastes like a lemon drop, but then it fades away." Wyler's Light Lemonade ( $4.29 at Vons for 3.13 oz.; makes 12 quarts) had a yellowy, cloudy look to it that hinted at more body. "It does have more middle-palate tartness," agreed Patrick. "But it's too sweet, and still doesn't have real acid." Crystal Light ( $3.00 at Vons for 2.1 oz.; makes 8 quarts) proved the clear winner in the category. "You can actually smell lemon in this one," I marveled. "And it's got a little of that puckering effect that real lemonade has," added Patrick. "I like my lemonade to hurt, and this does the trick."

Round two: both the Vons Lemonade drink mix ( $3.29 for 20 oz.; makes 8 quarts) and the Country Time Lemonade ( $4.46 at Vons for 19 oz.; makes 8 quarts) featured sugar and fructose in their ingredient lists -- though Country Time's label boasted that it contained 40 percent less sugar than the leading soda. Both had a decent acidic bite, but neither tasted much like lemons. The Country Time fared a shade better in the density department. Patrick was saddened -- his memory of Country Time had been tarnished. But he was cheered by our next entry: À La Source Organic Lemonade mix ( $5.39 at Whole Foods for 20 oz.; makes 5 quarts) came the closest to mimicking the real deal. "It's granular, as opposed to powdered," noticed Patrick. "And it's sweetened with cane juice." Besides delivering the most lemon flavor and more pucker, À La Source offered an integrated sweetness and a real sort of body. It wasn't quite bits of pulp, but it wasn't just water, either. "Maybe it's the 'cloud' in the ingredients," guessed Patrick. "Organic corn starch, gum arabic..." Worked for me, even if it did take more mixing to get the granules to dissolve.

However much Patrick admired the granules in the À La Source, he was horrified to see a full cup of sugar granules disappear into the greenish murk of the Kool Aid Lemonade mix ( $.20 at Ralph's per .23 oz.; makes 1 quart). "But look at how small this packet is," I replied. "Maybe it's the same amount of sugar as the other people; theirs is just already added." But all that sugar didn't keep the Kool Aid from coming across as flat and watery. We got better results from the same preparation with the Drink Aid Lemonade mix ( $.20 at Ralph's for .33 oz.; makes 1 quart). More body, more pucker. "This is better than the sugar-in stuff from Vons, and the Country Time," said Patrick. In fact, it finished a close third, behind the Crystal Light, which offered more body and lemon flavor, but also a slight aftertaste.

After the tasting, Patrick and I puzzled over the various listings of "natural" and "artificial" flavors in our various powders. I called Mariano Gascon, president of the Society of Flavor Chemists, to find out a little more. "For artificial flavors," said Gascon, "it is only substantive that they are not obtained from natural products. It is not the case that natural is good and artificial is bad. They are the exact same compounds as those found in nature; they're just not obtained from a natural source. In the case of natural lemon flavor, they take the essential oil out of the lemon peel and make an extract. The oil is intense, and they add chemicals to change the flavor profile -- the oil tastes like a lemon peel instead of lemon juice. The added chemicals are the same ones that are in lemon juice. Then they turn the whole thing into a powder by making an emulsion with starches and removing the water."

Gascon continued, "In general, it is less expensive to use artificial flavoring. But in the case of lemons and oranges, we have tons of them, so it might be cheaper to get the flavor from a natural source." To some extent, "it depends on the crop and the weather," and there's the rub. "When you use an artificial flavor, you always have the same flavor. When people buy a product, they want it to always taste the same. They feel comfortable about it."

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Olive Street pocket park weathers appeal by adjacent home owner

Will AIDS memorial draw thousands?
Next Article

San Diego inside sports

El Cajon Speedway, dark side of NFL, pick-up b-ball, Lakeside's Jarrod Boswell, start of Padres, SDSU football scandal

'Kids today..." That's the tagline for my great-aunt Gladys. She's 75 and full of energetic complaint. Not a visit goes by when she doesn't train her sights on "kids today." "Are too lazy; watch too much TV; dress like slobs; dress like harlots; don't show respect" -- you get the idea. So imagine my surprise when I caught myself murmuring "kids today" last Saturday, as I drove away from a local lemonade stand. In my hand was a halfheartedly filled cup, and what was inside was watery, too sweet, and clearly prepackaged. And it had run me $.75 . When I was a kid with a lemonade stand, I made sure I squeezed some lemons and made real lemonade. The customer wasn't just paying for my time behind the counter; the customer was paying for honest materials and honest labor -- lemons and sugar, water and ice, slicing, squeezing, mixing, chilling. "It wouldn't be so bad if the stuff at least tasted good," I complained to Patrick. "What's a kid to do?" he replied. "Not everyone has a lemon tree in their back yard." That set me off on a jag. I spent the rest of the day scooping up powdered lemonade mixes. Surely modern science had advanced to the point of giving the world powdered lemonade that tasted something like the real thing?

We wound up with three categories: sugar-free, sugar-in, and sugar-needed (to which you add your own). We started with the sugar-free, afraid we wouldn't be able to taste them otherwise. Candidate one, Vons Lemonade Lite ( $3.05 for 3.2 oz.; makes 12 quarts), veered toward the Lite end of things. "There's no acid," grumbled Patrick. "Maybe a little zing up front, but no acid in the middle or back of the palate. None of that lemon tartness you want in a cool, refreshing drink. Up front, it tastes like a lemon drop, but then it fades away." Wyler's Light Lemonade ( $4.29 at Vons for 3.13 oz.; makes 12 quarts) had a yellowy, cloudy look to it that hinted at more body. "It does have more middle-palate tartness," agreed Patrick. "But it's too sweet, and still doesn't have real acid." Crystal Light ( $3.00 at Vons for 2.1 oz.; makes 8 quarts) proved the clear winner in the category. "You can actually smell lemon in this one," I marveled. "And it's got a little of that puckering effect that real lemonade has," added Patrick. "I like my lemonade to hurt, and this does the trick."

Round two: both the Vons Lemonade drink mix ( $3.29 for 20 oz.; makes 8 quarts) and the Country Time Lemonade ( $4.46 at Vons for 19 oz.; makes 8 quarts) featured sugar and fructose in their ingredient lists -- though Country Time's label boasted that it contained 40 percent less sugar than the leading soda. Both had a decent acidic bite, but neither tasted much like lemons. The Country Time fared a shade better in the density department. Patrick was saddened -- his memory of Country Time had been tarnished. But he was cheered by our next entry: À La Source Organic Lemonade mix ( $5.39 at Whole Foods for 20 oz.; makes 5 quarts) came the closest to mimicking the real deal. "It's granular, as opposed to powdered," noticed Patrick. "And it's sweetened with cane juice." Besides delivering the most lemon flavor and more pucker, À La Source offered an integrated sweetness and a real sort of body. It wasn't quite bits of pulp, but it wasn't just water, either. "Maybe it's the 'cloud' in the ingredients," guessed Patrick. "Organic corn starch, gum arabic..." Worked for me, even if it did take more mixing to get the granules to dissolve.

However much Patrick admired the granules in the À La Source, he was horrified to see a full cup of sugar granules disappear into the greenish murk of the Kool Aid Lemonade mix ( $.20 at Ralph's per .23 oz.; makes 1 quart). "But look at how small this packet is," I replied. "Maybe it's the same amount of sugar as the other people; theirs is just already added." But all that sugar didn't keep the Kool Aid from coming across as flat and watery. We got better results from the same preparation with the Drink Aid Lemonade mix ( $.20 at Ralph's for .33 oz.; makes 1 quart). More body, more pucker. "This is better than the sugar-in stuff from Vons, and the Country Time," said Patrick. In fact, it finished a close third, behind the Crystal Light, which offered more body and lemon flavor, but also a slight aftertaste.

After the tasting, Patrick and I puzzled over the various listings of "natural" and "artificial" flavors in our various powders. I called Mariano Gascon, president of the Society of Flavor Chemists, to find out a little more. "For artificial flavors," said Gascon, "it is only substantive that they are not obtained from natural products. It is not the case that natural is good and artificial is bad. They are the exact same compounds as those found in nature; they're just not obtained from a natural source. In the case of natural lemon flavor, they take the essential oil out of the lemon peel and make an extract. The oil is intense, and they add chemicals to change the flavor profile -- the oil tastes like a lemon peel instead of lemon juice. The added chemicals are the same ones that are in lemon juice. Then they turn the whole thing into a powder by making an emulsion with starches and removing the water."

Gascon continued, "In general, it is less expensive to use artificial flavoring. But in the case of lemons and oranges, we have tons of them, so it might be cheaper to get the flavor from a natural source." To some extent, "it depends on the crop and the weather," and there's the rub. "When you use an artificial flavor, you always have the same flavor. When people buy a product, they want it to always taste the same. They feel comfortable about it."

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

San Diego inside sports

El Cajon Speedway, dark side of NFL, pick-up b-ball, Lakeside's Jarrod Boswell, start of Padres, SDSU football scandal
Next Article

Hard times for San Diego County cities

Hard times for 17 San Diego County cities
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close