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Market Fresh: Ahhh, refreshing -- agua fresca

 

Anne Freeze

 

When the heat and humidity get to be too much a refreshing glass of agua fresca is just the thing. The name is Spanish for "fresh water" and vendors selling all flavors can be found on the streets of Mexico. The idea to pass these recipes along hit me when I was at a neighbor's pool party. She rushed by me with a smile and a pitcher saying that she had to go make some more watermelon water for her mother.  

 

The joy and beauty of agua fresca is that you use what is fresh right now. It is traditionally made with seasonal fruit, some sort of sweetener (used as needed) and perhaps some grains or herbs. It is a perfect drink to have at a party as you can have a pitcher ready for non-alcoholic drinkers and add vodka or rum to it to make a festive cocktail.  

 

Keep in mind that this is the perfect recipe to adjust to your own taste. Some recipes tell you to strain the mixture (my preference), but it's not always necessary with fruits such as watermelon or cantaloupe. It will be similar to orange juice with pulp if you don't strain it. However, if you use a fruit such as blueberries or blackberries, I recommend straining. You don't want your guests walking around with seeds in between their teeth! 

 

 

 

BASIC AGUA FRESCA 

 

 

 

4 cups chopped fresh fruit (such as watermelon, peach or cantaloupe) 

 

3 tablespoons granulated sugar 

 

Juice of 1 lime (2 tablespoons) 

 

 

 

  • In a blender, combine fruit, sugar, lime juice and 1 cup water. Puree until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a pitcher, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to help push liquid through sieve. Discard fruit pulp, add 1 more cup water to pitcher, stir to combine and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. 

     

     

     

    CUCUMBER LIME AGUA FRESCA 

     

     

     

    5 whole cucumbers, coarsely chopped (not peeled or seeded) 

     

    1/2 cup fresh lime juice 

     

    1/2 Serrano chile, seeded and minced (or more to taste) 

     

    1/8 cup agave nectar 

     

    Sea salt 

     

     

     

  • In a blender, in batches, puree the cucumbers with 2 1/4 cups of water, the lime juice, chile, agave nectar and a generous pinch of sea salt on high speed. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a triple layer of cheesecloth, discarding the solids. Serve over ice. Keeps two days, refrigerated. 

     

     

     

    CANTALOUPE AND THYME AGUA FRESCA 

     

     

     

    8 cups cantaloupe cubes 

     

    2 cups water 

     

    5 tablespoons honey or sugar 

     

    1/4 cup lime juice (plus a few slices for garnish) 

     

    Thyme sprigs. 

     

     

     

  • In a blender combine the cantaloupe, water, sweetener of choice and lime juice. Liquefy. You can strain this through a fine mesh sieve or leave the pulp in. Add thyme sprigs and garnish with lime slices.

     

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