I love talking food with my friend Michael M. at the Co-op – he is also an avid cook and is really good about making all kinds of things from scratch, including his own tortillas and refried beans (which I will be trying myself very soon). Late last week he was telling me about how he makes Agua Fresca – a refreshing drink that is common in Mexico and Central America. It is essentially a fruit, grain, and/or flower flavored beverage that is great on a hot (or warm, in our case) summer day.
The forecast predicted warmer temperatures and sunny skies for this weekend, and I thought that Agua Fresca sounded like a great recipe to demo. We have so much delicious Washington grown fruit right now to choose from that the biggest decision was deciding what flavors to make! With Michael’s sage advice, I decided on a couple different ones – watermelon, donut (or Saturn) peach and lime for the first and cantaloupe, cucumber, basil and lime for the second – and all ingredients except the lime were grown in-state.
Agua Fresca is extremely easy to make – simply peel and rough cut your chosen ingredients and throw them in the blender. Once they are puréed, you strain it through either cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, add it back to the blender with a little sugar, and then into your pitcher with some water. Once it is chilled (very important – it is best when served ice-cold) you are good to go – one sip and you feel like you should be sitting on a beach with a good book – you can almost hear the waves crashing in the background!
You can use any soft fruit (or vegetable) for this recipe, and you are only limited by your imagination. This is a great way to use overripe fruit, as it will purée that much easier! I’ve included the recipes for the two versions I made to sample for customers (who loved it – kids especially), but don’t be afraid to think outside the box!
Recipe courtesy of Michael Marques
- 1 “personal” watermelon, chopped
- 3 donut peaches or 1 large peach, pitted and chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2-4 T sugar *
- 1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped
- 1 cantaloupe, seeded and chopped
- 3-6 large leaves of basil
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2-4 T sugar *
- Prepare your fruit/herbs/vegetables.
- Add fruit/herbs/vegetables to blender and purée.
- Strain purée through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into your pitcher. Get as much of the juice from the pulp as possible; discard pulp.
- Strain again, but back into the blender this time. Add sugar, starting with 2T and blend until combined. Taste mixture to see if you want to add more sugar.
- Pour mixture back into your pitcher. Add enough water to fill container and mix.
- Chill completely and serve icy cold, preferably with crushed ice.
* you can use just about any sweetener – if you choose to use a liquid one like honey or agave syrup, then you should dissolve it in a little bit of hot water before mixing it into the purée.
Agua Fresca translates literally as “fresh water”. It is served all over Mexico and it very simple to recreate at home. It is hard to mess up—you can add as much water as you like to make it thinner or thicker, depending on your personal tastes. Comer con gusto!
Agua Fresca PDF