This Honey-Sweetened Limeade with Strawberries and Basil is the perfect drink that you can make in these hot summer days. It is refreshing and refined sugar free made with flavoring freshly squeezed limes with chunky strawberries and basil.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Philadelphia for a freelance project. My assignment was to take photos of a catering company’s menu for their new website. As I do with all my clients, I sent them a questionnaire asking them about what was it that they were looking for and what did they want the end product to look like. They sent me a long list of things that they wanted to see in their photos. Of all the things on the list one thing was clear; they wanted photos that are bright and colorful with very minimal styling. They also assured me that their kitchen, where I would be shooting, had beautiful natural daylight. I thought to myself, it should be easy. Even though I have an affinity for darker food photography with lots of shadows and shallow depth of field, as a photographer I should be able to deliver what my client needs.
I had no idea what was in store for me.
When I made it to the location, I was surprised to see that it was a much smaller kitchen than I envisioned. Plus the place that they thought I would shoot was a tiny counter with very little daylight. The whole kitchen was illuminated with florescent lights and the only daylight that I thought I can work with was in the back of the kitchen next to the back door, where the dumpster was located. Unfortunately, since I didn’t know how limited the natural light would be, I didn’t bring any artificial light with me. Long story short, it was totally different than what I thought it would be. But we made it work. With the help of some of the most hard working and creative chefs I have ever worked with, we pulled it off. Thankfully, I knew the basics of photography and how to shoot clear and bright photos with very minimal natural light. It was harder than I thought, but at the end they loved the photographs I took and edited.
However, this was an eye-opening experience for me. More than anything, I realized that this kind of food photography with modern styling and minimal props with bright vibrant colors was not my strongest pursuit. I needed to come out of my comfort zone and work on creating a totally different look than I personally lean towards. Thankfully, Internet was full of inspiration. After studying some of my favorite photographers’ work, I felt like I had a place to start. Also, I have to say, my friend Rachel’s (of Two Loves Studio) blog posts about food photography helped a lot. If you are a photographer, I recommend checking her website. Her blog is full of very helpful information, both on the technical and emotional side of food photography.
About the recipe:
I couldn’t think of a better recipe than this Honey-Sweetened Limeade with Strawberries and Basil for this kind of photography. We have been enjoying this drink since the beginning of April when the first strawberries appeared in our farmer’s market. I used to sweeten it with granulated sugar, but after I saw another drink recipe sweetened with honey I decided to give it a try. It was perfect, so much so that I do not think that I will ever make lemonade or limeade with regular sugar again.
Our preference for the ratio of honey to liquid is 1 to 6. It is a little sweeter than most recipes, but since we like to serve it with a lot of ice it balances pretty well. However, feel free to adjust the sweetness by adding half of the honey simple syrup and tasting it as you make the limeade. I also love chunks of fruit in my limeade so instead of pureeing the strawberries I sliced them and put them in the drink. Finally, since I love adding fresh herbs in my drinks I decided to add some chopped fresh basil at the very end. The combination of basil, lime, honey, and strawberries is the most refreshing and delicious spring and summer drink ever.
At the end of this shoot, I realized that shooting and editing this style of light and bright photos was much different than shooting darker food photos with heavy shadows and shallower depth of field. I also had to stop myself from adding more props in my composition. Overall it was a great learning experience. I feel like I have long ways to go so be aware that more of this look is coming in the next couple of weeks.
What kind of food photos do you like? Dark and moody with muted colors and heavy shadows or light and bright with vibrant colors and heavy highlights? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to know what you think.
Honey-Sweetened Limeade with Strawberries and Lime
A delicious summer drink made with honey sweetened simple syrup, strawberries and basil.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 6-8
- Category: Non Alcoholic Drink
- Cuisine: American
To Make the Honey-Sweetened Simple Syrup:
- 1 cup honey
- 1 1/2 cups water
For the Limeade:
- 12-15 medium size fresh limes plus 1 more as garnish (you need 1 cup of lime juice)
- 1 cup strawberries, sliced – plus more as garnish
- 1/4 cup of basil, chopped – plus more as garnish
- 5-6 cups of water
- To make the honey-sweetened simple syrup: Place honey and 1 1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Cook until honey is completely dissolved. Set aside and let it cool.
- Zest 3 limes and place the zest in the saucepan with the dissolved honey.
- Squeeze the juices of the limes. You should have at least one cup of lime juice.
- To make the limeade: Place the honey mixture and lime juice in a pitcher. Add in sliced strawberries and chopped basil.
- Add in 5 cups of cold water and give it a good stir. Place it in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.
- When ready to serve, pour limeade into glasses filled with ice and garnish with chunks of strawberries and fresh basil leaves.
As long as it is kept in the fridge, it keeps fresh for up to 2 days.