I love drinking aguas frescas when I’m in Mexico but I’ve never made them myself. We’ve had hot and humid weather in Los Angeles this past week so I figured this would be a good time to give it a try. Agua fresca means “fresh water” in Spanish. They are basically made by combining fresh fruit, grains, herbs or even flowers with water and a sweetener. There are so many different fruits to choose from. Some of the most popular are watermelon, strawberries, papayas, cucumber and pineapple. On the more exotic side you could try hibiscus or horchata. They are simple to make and so hydrating and refreshing on a hot day!
I decided to try two different fruits so I made a strawberry version and a watermelon version. The most important thing when making agua fresca is that your fruit be as sweet and ripe as possible. If your fruit is tasteless your water will be also, plus you will need more sweetener. Picking out the strawberries was pretty easy since you can taste one, but the watermelon was harder. Much of the produce in supermarkets today is picked before it has a chance to ripen on the vine. This makes the quality very inconsistent. Look for watermelons that are heavy for their size and have a yellow mark on the bottom where the melon sat on the ground while ripening. Farmers markets are a good place to find the best produce.
What you will need for strawberry:
4 cups sliced ripe strawberries (this is around 4 of the small baskets with extra for garnish)
8 cups cold water
1-2 tablespoons agave nectar
Rinse and slice strawberries. Mix together sliced strawberries, agave nectar and 1 cup water in a medium bowl. (how much agave nectar you use depends on your taste and how sweet the strawberries are. Mine were very sweet so I only added 1 tablespoon). Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 3 to 4 hours or even overnight. This step really adds to the taste.
After the strawberries have marinated, place them in a blender and blend on high until smooth.
Pour the blended mixture through a wire mesh strainer set atop a large mixing bowl. (this step is optional and removes the pulp and some of the seeds) Skip it if you prefer some pulp. The seeds will remain at the bottom of the bowl and are easy to discard when transferring to a pitcher.
Add the remaining cups of water and stir. You can also add the juice from 1/2 half lime and some mint sprigs. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve over ice and garnish with sliced limes and mint. Makes around 8 servings
6 to 8 cups cubed watermelon
4 cups cold water
juice of 1 or 2 limes
1-2 tablespoons agave nectar
1. Place the watermelon cubes in a blender with a 1/2 to 1 cup water. (You only need enough water to liquify the fruit) Blend until smooth. (you may need to blend in batches) Taste for sweetness and add some agave nectar if necessary. Add the lime juice. Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining water.
2. Place metal sieve over the bowl and strain if desired.
3. Pour into a pitcher and place in refrigerator for 1/2 hour to chill and for the flavors to meld.
Serve over ice and garnish with limes and mint sprigs. Makes around 8 servings
Note: The watermelon should be served the same day as it looses it’s flavor and some of the color the next day. The strawberry however, was even better the next day.
These recipes are a matter of taste so feel free to adjust the amounts according to your taste. I couldn’t see throwing away all the vitamins and antioxidants in the pulp so I left it in for both recipes and it was delicious. Just stir if it settles at the bottom.
Hope you Enjoy!