Appalachia Appalachian Food Profiles of Mountain People

Lemonade in Choestoe

“My first memory of lemonade was at Grandpa Collins’s house. My mother’s sisters, India, Avery and Ethel were what we called “unclaimed blessings,” ladies who were “old maids,” or not yet married. They worked on the farm, along with Uncle Esley, also unmarried, and cared for Grandpa Collins, who by my time of remembrance of him, had somewhat retired to the porch swing to sit out the summers in the shade. The four of his children still at home ran the farm and the country store. And in my frequent stays there, I remember my introduction to lemonade. They also had the first refrigerator in that area of Choestoe, and also had a place to put the pitcher of good-tasting lemonade to make it cold, cold! With only two trays of ice in the small refrigerator, ice was still at a premium, so we were satisfied with the sweet-pungent-tasting lemonade just being cold! That was a real treat after hoeing rows of corn or gathering something from the garden for the good meals my aunts made to be served from the lazy-susan table, where all the dishes to serve were put on the “turn-around” so they could go by each person seated at the large round table with its lazy-Susan top. That table dominated its special place in one section of that large farmhouse kitchen. Those were the days of my growing-up years!  Sweet memories!”

Ethelene Dyer Jones – July 2016


I’m sad to say I haven’t made lemonade one time this summer, but Ethelene’s memories made me wish I had. I guess it’s not too late since there’s still a bit of summer left.


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Betty Benedict
    August 20, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    To my Mother growing up in the Depression era I guess Lemonade was a real treat. She would talk about slicing lemons into a “dishpan” and covering them with sugar. Then they would mash them with something like a potato masher, before adding water. I’m not fond of Lemonade but she could tell this in a way that made me want some!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 27, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    We didn’t get electricity until the late 50s. Before that our refrigerator was a spring box and ice was available only in the winter (but it was free (all you had to do was break it off the eaves.) A spring box was not only more economical than a refrigerator, it was more efficient. Because of the cold flowing water the temperature of the food actually came down faster than in the stagnant air in a refrigerator (many fridges nowdays have fans to circulate the air and filters to help eliminate odors.
    Lemons and therefore lemonade were a rare commodity when I was growing up. Most of our visits to a store were to local Mom and Pop places which rarely had fruit other than local apples, peaches and strawberries. And even more rarely bananas.
    Daddy did all the shopping for the family because he had to hitchhike into town and get a taxi back home with his acquisitions. Maybe once during a summer he would bring home lemons.
    Mommy would roll them across the table to smush them up inside then cut them crossways into four or five slices then drop them in a one gallon glass jar along with a goodly amount of sugar followed by cold spring water. Of course the mixture had to sit for a few hours to let the lemons release their flavors. Those few hours seemed like days.
    With six thirsty kids and two adults, who hadn’t had lemonade in a year or more, a gallon didn’t last very long. Mommy would retain the lemon slices in the jar and when it was all gone would put in more sugar and water and make more. The wait for the second round was twice as long, usually the next day. The second time the lemonade was weaker but still good comparatively, plus we got the lemon slices to gnaw on then. That was a treat in itself. The carpels and the peel were still full of flavor if you could avoid the bitter pith.
    That was about the time Tang became available and was used as a substitute for lemonade and orange juice. We had more of that stuff than lemonade. Thinking back, that stuff was nasty tasting and gave me heartburn but it was part of scratching my way into the modern world. Of course the modern world turned out not to be the paradise I expected. Much of it I have now rejected. I haven’t had Tang in forty years, but I’ve had lemonade!

  • Reply
    August 27, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I also remember the refrigerator at granny Watters house . It wasn’t very tall and you had to defrost it, but all my growing up years it never quit working ,or had to be worked on… but as for lemons, my mama ,sister and I loved them . We ate them with salt just like we did green apples. I remember selling lemonade up the red gravel road from her house on the corner to the railroaders as they got off from work, and yes I’m sure I drank a lot of the potential profit,,, yum . Just talking about that lemony tartness fills me with the want to head on in the kitchen and make a picture full of lemonade, and eat a bite or two . Sour ,puckering ,goodness.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I haven’t made lemonade recently, but am kind of addicted to water with a splash of bitters in it – doesn’t give me that scratchy-throat feeling I often get from lemonade. Do love the taste of fresh cold lemonade though!

  • Reply
    Rick Stonecypher
    August 27, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Loved your memories of lemonade. Took me back to my memories of my first glass lemonade with my grandma.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Sadly to say, I never got to try lemonade as a kid. It was milk from a cow or cold water from the spring, but never complain. That’s like when I met my husband, I never had tried celery or cauliflower. Didnt know what it was. He put some peanut butter on it and I really like it. We couldn’t afford going to the grocery store. We raised all of our food. He made the lemonade and it is so good. Hadn’t tried any this yr. That makes me want so though. THANKS TIPPER!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 27, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Lemonade — homemade with fresh lemons and simple syrup made from sugar and water — was part of my childhood summers and, for a few years part of my own home summers. But then came frozen lemonade, and we all thought it tasted almost as good so began using it exclusively. Now I buy Simply Lemonade, which is so easy and tastes good. But maybe I’ll make a batch of REAL lemonade this week.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2018 at 9:12 am

    When my husband and I bought our farm, the old folks who owned it moved to a subdivision and left lots of antiques in all the buildings. The girls were still home at that time and wanted to finish school from the home they had been living in for many years. We put renters in the farmhouse to keep an eye on everything for us until we could move here. Burglars would have taken less! The renters quickly moved anything of value to another location. One item was GE’s first icebox with the dome top. It still worked and was kept running in the barn for farm hands to use. I’m still furious 30 years later.
    My family never had lemonade when I was growing up. I doubt there was a lemon in the entire county at that time.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 27, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Lemonade is my favorite summer drink, followed closely by iced tea. But the store kind is just so-so. There is real art to getting the water, lemons and sugar balanced just right. And of course different people like it different ways.

    Lemonade was not a big thing at our house growing up though, probably because the lemons were considered a luxury.

    I like recipes with lemon zest to. In fact, I confess to eating the peel sometimes even now. It has the most lemon oil and especially when I was a kid there were times it was better to me than the inside. My brother and I liked to just suck on whole lemons to but they sure will edge your teeth. I guess a dentist would be horrified.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2018 at 8:41 am

    When I read the title I thought you might share recipes for lemonade. I used to have one using maple syrup. I know it sounds strange to want a “recipe” for such a simple thing but since I misplace my original notes, I just can’t seem to get the proportions right! Also have heard of lemonade with flax seed oil in it.
    Since we grew citrus, we often had fresh orange juice, lemonade, or limeade and it was Oh! so much better than anything “they’ve” come up with since that “they” call lemonade. I don’t recall ever having cherry syrup at home but when we went to the big town for a major shopping, we always stopped at a certain drug store where Mom could order Cherry Limeade.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    August 27, 2018 at 8:34 am

    I’ve only had lemonade one time this summer at my sister’s house. It was a big after church dinner. I took a drink of the lemonade and it was really sweet. She was supposedly on a no sugar diet. I asked her what she had sweetened with? She laughed and said it was organic sugar.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Both my grandmothers had ice boxes to keep things cold. Many in the area had springs. We put the milk in a jar, put it in a bucket and let it down in the well to just above the water level. everything else was kept at whatever room temperature was.
    My first remembrance of lemonade was dad making 5 gallons for the work crew on a house he was building. He mixed it up and put a large block of ice in the cooler with it. I may have consumed half of it.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    August 27, 2018 at 8:13 am

    I remember our old refrigerator. It was purchased in 1939 and had only room for the two ice cube trays. In April of 1953 my Father made a good hit on the stock market and bought my Mother a new one that we thought was huge. He also bought a new 53 ford for himself and bought me a grand piano from the choir director at church who was retiring.
    In August my Father died from a massive heart attack.
    I remember my Mother making lemonade for all of the folks who came to the house after the funeral. The pitchers took up every inch of space in the fridge. My Mother always said each time she opened the refrigerator she thought about Daddy and how good he was to us. I loved playing that piano and Mother took drivers education to learn to drive the car.
    Life went on but it was always better with lemonade.

  • Reply
    Cindy Pressley
    August 27, 2018 at 7:31 am

    Beautiful memories of a time gone by! It seems like a different world to me. I have memories of my grandmothers house that are similar to these but mostly these are just stories of another time for me, I didn’t live them.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 27, 2018 at 6:20 am

    I remember the tiny freezer in my mothers kitchen when I was little. I think 2 trays and maybe 1 other item and it was full.
    The lazy susan table is something I remember seeing only once. I went jome full of that table thinking we should get rid of the one we had and get one just like it

  • Leave a Reply