Cyprus Lemonade (Yia-Yia’s Lemonatha)

about 20 minutes
Makes about 3 cups of lemon squash

3 cups of lemon juice (about 10-15 lemons)
3 cups of sugar

1.Make sure you have a dry bottle to hand. If there is any water inside the bottle, eventually your lemon squash will become sour. Much like when you make jam, the bottle should be completely dry. Place it in the oven at a low temperature to sterilize it. Leave it to cool while you prepare the lemon squash.

2. Wash the lemons and dry the same.

3. Squeeze the lemons. It is best if you can squeeze some of the oil from the peel as well. This is hard unless you happen to have a coffee-shop like juice extractor in your home, which (I think) would be rare. Instead, just squeeze the lemons as much as possible when juice them. The oil from the peel is useful because I think it helps a little with the taste, and eventually the oil will rise to the surface and better preserve the lemon squash. However, don’t worry if you cannot squeeze some of the oil from the peel out, as it is not fatal to the taste.

4. Add the sugar to the juice. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the sugar has been dissolved. If you wish, you can do this over the stove at a very low temperature. Do not let the mixture get too hot as the lemon squash will become bitter, and the vitamin C will get destroyed.

5. Once the bottles are cool, poor in the lemon squash and keep in the fridge.

6. To pour yourself a cup of lemonade, I usually use about 1/4 cup of lemon squash for every 1 cup of ice cold water. But it really depends on how sweet you like your lemonade. This lemonade is super refreshing!

Remember your “yiayia’s” (Grandma’s) lemonade? Sitting outside, getting a glass full of refreshing, light-yellow sweetness. That lemonade was amazing. Always stored in some re-used old keo brandy bottle or the like. Not sure about you, but at my aunt’s house all of the lemons have now fallen off her tree. She keeps them in a big box. Where they await rescue or face eventual lemon-death. So this week I used the lemons to, surprise, make lemonade. What I noticed when speaking to a lot of people about how they make their lemonade was that there are a lot of individual little tricks. ‘Heat it’. ‘Don’t heat it’. ‘Squeeze the peel’. ‘Don’t squeeze the peel’. ‘Heat the peel’. ‘Use fresh lemons’. ‘Make sure the bottle is dry’. ‘Use fresh lemons’. ‘Make it on Tuesdays’. OK, the last one I made up. But you get my point.

The only solution in my opinion was a taste test. The taste-challenge winner was the simple one. Use freshly picked lemons, don’t heat it, and use equal part lemon and sugar. Another recipe involved heating some peel with water and mixing that water together with lemon juice and caster sugar. It was still good, but had less of a lemony-freshness to it. The other recipes tried involved older lemons which made the flavour a bit more acidic. The overwhelming winner was the recipe below. Perfect for a hot sunny day and those child-hood (or adulthood!) lemonade stands.


  1. Thanks for sharing this easy recipe. I have some bitter orange trees in our yard, and tons of bitter oranges. Using your recipe, I’ve already made the Kitromila Marmalade (delicious!), and although I plan to do this soon, I wasn’t quite up to taking on the Cyprus sweets today. So I substituted bitter oranges for lemons in this recipe to make “Kitromilatha”. Refreshing and delicious drink, and a good use for some of the extra oranges. Yamas!

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Cyprus Cuisine

“Cyprus Cuisine”, published by Whitecap Books in 2021, is now available for purchase. Christina Loucas shares over 80 recipes that showcase the very best of Cypriot cooking.

Cyprus Cuisine