June 25, 2014 11:00:20 AM
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)
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
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)
2. A Southern favorite: Rick Bragg to speak in Fayette ENTERTAINMENT