Sunday, May 17, 2009

Agua Fresca

Flavored waters are quite popular, but many of them are so sweet that they are merely sodas without the carbonation.   Latin countries have been making agua frescas or water with fruit. Roadside vendors sell colored jugs of agua frescas.  It is easy and refreshing to make your own and the possibilities are endless, flavorful and nutritious, perfect for the warm/hot weather that we are all waiting for!  The best part is that you can modify the sugar content or leave it out altogether depending on your taste and preferences.
At the most basic, add a lemon or cucumber slice to a glass of cold water or a few in a pitcher filled with ice and water.  To make them sweeter, make a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, cooked to dissolve, start with 3/4 cup each).... here are some ideas:

Pineapple Ginger Fresca - make the simple syrup but add a few sliced freshly cut ginger.  Let cool, then strain the mixture to remove the ginger. Puree pineapple to water 2 to 1 ratio of fruit to water.  Then add to a pitcher of water.  Stir in sugar syrup to sweeten.

Cucumber Lemon - make the simple syrup and let a few lemon slices soak in it while the syrup is cooling.  Remove the lemon when cool.  Puree 2 cucumbers (skin on) with 3 cups water to blend.  Strain to remove seeds and skin and pour in a pitcher.  Add enough water to fill up the pitcher add juice from 1 lemon.  Add simple syrup to taste.

Strawberry Thyme - make simple syrup and add thyme while cooling.  Strain to remove thyme. In a blender, blend strawberries with 2 - 3 cups of water.   Strain out the solids and add to a pitcher.  Add additional water and syrup.

Basic Fresca Recipe - 
2-3 cups fruit, fresh or frozen, chopped coarsely (melons, berries, citrus)
6-8 cups water
Simple syrup

Variations
-Use agave syrup instead of simple syrup
-For a little kick, add chili pepper
-Canned crushed pineapple will work in lieu of a blender

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