“Seasonal Cooking” brings you delicious home-cooked recipes with the freshest ingredients of the season. This cherry limeade from Liz Harris of Floating Kitchen reduces Harry & David’s Plump-Sweet Cherries to a simple syrup that adds a sweet summer twist to lemon-lime soda.
Summer is in full heat mode, and I’m keeping cool with one of my favorite drinks: a fresh cherry limeade. I make it with Harry & David’s premium Plump-Sweet Cherries, which pack lots of sweet summer flavor and help this limeade stand out from ones you may buy at a store or order at a restaurant. Not only are limeades perfect for keeping cool on a hot summer day, but they’re so easy to make, too!
The key step to making these cherry limeades is making homemade cherry-flavored simple syrup. You’ll start by stemming and pitting the cherries. I use a cherry pitter, but you can also use a chopstick to pop the pits out or a small paring knife to halve them and remove the pits. Combine your prepped cherries with water and sugar, and cook them over your stovetop until a dark, sweet liquid is formed and the cherries are soft and starting to break down. Besides being a key ingredient in any simple syrup, the sugar also helps bring out the natural sweetness of the cherries themselves, and letting them break down slightly from the heat releases the juices and turns the syrup that nice cherry red. Strain the mixture, collecting the liquid into a clean container. The cherry syrup can be stored in a sealed container in your refrigerator for several days, which makes it great to keep on hand for those unexpected heat waves. Just don’t throw away those cooked cherry solids after straining the syrup — they make for a delicious topping over ice cream, yogurt, even oatmeal.
If you don’t store the cherry syrup in the fridge before creating the limeades, make sure it’s completely cooled before mixing it. When it’s time to make the drinks, you’ll also want to juice a couple of limes rather than using pre-bottled juice. The fresh lime juice has a much better taste, which will make a big difference in the final flavor of these drinks.
After combining the syrup, soda, and lime juice, give the limeade a sip. If you want a sweeter drink, use a bit more cherry syrup; if you want more zip, then squeeze a bit more lime juice. It’s that simple! Top it off with a lime wedge or cherry on top, and enjoy!
For the Fresh Cherry Syrup
- 1 ½ cups Harry & David Plump-Sweet Cherries (stemmed and pitted)
- 1 cup water
- ⅔ cups granulated sugar
For each Limeade
- 8 ounces lemon-lime soda
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh cherry syrup
- 1/2-1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
To Make the Cherry Simple Syrup:
- Combine the cherries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, collecting the liquid in a clean container.
- Place the fresh cherry syrup in your refrigerator to chill completely before using.
To Make a Limeade
- Fill a large glass with ice. Slowly pour in the lemon-lime soda. Add the fresh cherry syrup and lime juice. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with cherries and lime slices, if desired. Enjoy immediately.