Warm summer days come with a powerful thirst. Since summer drinks can be a little pricy, let’s look at some alternatives to quench your thirst with drinks made at home.
Hands down, my favorite summertime drink is iced tea. Not only is it refreshing on a summer day, but it also has some health benefits. Studies show that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Tea also appears to have some microbial qualities.
It is one of the simplest drinks to brew. A jar, tea bags and heat are all that are required. Many people make sun tea, but that requires some time to make. If you are impatient or you forgot to set out your tea jar this morning, boil some water and put in a few tea bags. At my house, I use four regular tea bags and one specialty tea bag such as peach, berry, or mint to make a gallon of tea. That makes a cost of about 20 cents for a gallon. You can buy the iced tea for $1.99 at your convenience store or make the same amount at home for 15 cents (5 cents for the tea, 5 cents for the sugar, and 5 cents for the ice). If you like your tea unsweetened, you can save even more.
Iced Tea Day is June 10, so be sure to celebrate with your favorite tea.
If your tastes run toward iced coffee, you can ice down your favorite brew at about 22 cents a cup — 12 cents for the coffee and 10 cents for the ice. The same iced coffee will cost you about $2.50 at your local coffee place.
When I choose a summer iced coffee drink, I always choose an iced mocha, which can also be easily made at home. I have a simple recipe that uses instant coffee, milk, cocoa, sugar and water. It takes a bit more time, but it can be made in larger quantities and stored in the refrigerator for a quick treat.
Place 1 cup of water, ½ cup of instant coffee and ½ cup of cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. If you like it sweet, add ½ cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour this thick syrup into a pitcher with 3 quarts of milk. This recipe will cost you about $4, or about $1 a serving.
Lemonade is another summer treat and is the exception to the rule of being cheaper at home, at least when using fresh lemons. By using fresh squeezed lemons, water, and ½ cup of sugar, you can have excellent lemonade at a cost of 88 cents compared to $.40 per cup in the grocery store. Make a sugar syrup by boiling ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup of water in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool, then add 1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons). Put in a pitcher with another 3 cups of water and you are ready for a treat. If you choose bottled lemon juice, that cost goes down to 11 cents per cup.
One easy way to get more juice out of your lemons is to leave them whole and pop them in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds. The microwave excites the water molecules allowing them to release more of the juice. While you are at it, roll them a little before squeezing, which also helps to break down cell walls, yielding more juice.
No matter what your favorite summer drink, consider making it at home for an instant savings.
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is associate director of Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at email@example.com or by calling 907-474-7201.