You might have noticed it’s rather warm outside. Okay, it’s really, really hot.
When it gets this hot, it’s hard to think of eating. All I want to do is drink lots and lots of icy beverages. But let’s face it, most icy beverages aren’t good for us, so I have started making various agua frescas.
“What are agua frescas?” I hear you ask.
Agua frescas (literally “fresh waters”) are Mexican non-alcoholic beverages made from water and various fruits, flowers, seeds, or nuts. Horchata, a Mexican rice milk, is an agua fresca, as is agua de jamaica, a tea made with dried hibiscus flowers (see recipe below). Agua frescas are a great way to get some fruit in you while beating the heat, and unlike fruit juices, you don’t have to strain them (we don’t), so you get all the fiber from the fruit, too!
So without further ado, here’s a basic recipe for agua fresca, along with some of our favorite flavor combinations.
Basic Agua Fresca Recipe
This works for almost all fruit-based agua frescas.
4 cups peeled, chopped, seeded fruits
3 cups water
1 to 2 tablespoons sweetener (I like using agave nectar, but you can use everything from sugar to Sweet ‘n Low)
juice of 1 lime
Put everything in a blender and puree until smooth. You can strain it if you like, but you won’t get the healthy fiber from the fruit. Serve over ice. Leftover can be refrigerated.
Flavor Combinations for Agua Fresca
- Watermelon, cucumber, and lime (add the juice and the zest of the lime) with mint
- Peach and ginger (use about an inch of fresh, peeled ginger)
- Melon and lemon (use lemon instead of lime and a combination of melons)
- Pineapple and mango
- Papaya and coconut (use coconut water instead of regular water)
- Strawberry and peach with mint
- Cantaloupe and orange (use orange instead of lime)
Agua de Jamaica
This is a constant in our summer kitchen. It’s bright and lightly sweet and perfect for miserably hot days.
2 cups dried hibiscus flowers (available at Fiesta and on Amazon)
2 quarts water
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar or sweetener of your choice (to your taste – we don’t like it super sweet)
Combine the water and hibiscus flowers in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the sugar, and allow to cool. Congratulations! You’ve made agua de jamaica concentrate! Strain the concentrate into a half-gallon pitcher and fill the pitcher with water. Serve over ice and enjoy!