Blended fruit, water and a little lemon or lime juice makes a most flavorful and refreshing beverage for the warm days of spring and summer. Most any fruit can be used to make Mexico’s delicious aguas frescas: mango, papaya, pineapple, watermelon or even pink grapefruit. Ripe fruits offer luscious and lively flavors. And blending in fresh herbs such as mint, basil or lavender add complexity and interest.
I’ve wanted to try an agua fresca (Spanish for “fresh water”) for a number of years. Ever since reading about them in the Rancho La Puerta cookbook. Though, until last week I’d yet to taste one.
Wanting something “green” to begin the Spring Greening Healthy Cooking Class this weekend, aguas frescas came to mind. After playing mentally with a few green fruit combinations, I settled on honeydew, cucumber and mint. When made with my high-powered blender, this recipe comes out silky smooth, delightfully cool and deliciously refreshing. For those of you who have tasted aguas frescas, do let me know how this recipe compares to ones you know and love.
To chill without diluting
Yes, pouring over ice quickly chills the agua fresca. But it also dilutes the flavor more than a little. Rather a concern. Though a great tip from the Rancho La Puerta cookbook resolved the problem.
- Freeze some of a previous batch in an ice-cube tray.
- Place one or more of these cubes in each glass.
Note: Even though this picture looks like cubed honeydew, actually these are frozen cubes of my honeydew agua fresca 😉
Add a little more pizzazz by garnishing with sliced fruit, flowers, herb sprigs or cucumber sticks.
- A golden-yellow cast (rather than white or green) to most, if not all, of its skin.
- A sweet-smelling fragrance at both the stem and flower ends.
- A slight give at the flower end when touched with light pressure.
Here’s a new to me, and somewhat controversial tip. Some people say a ripe melon will not squeak at all when you run your thumb across the skin. Others, equally adamant, say a ripe melon will squeak a lot when you run your clean thumb across the skin.
As soon as I can confirm either way, I’ll update this post. Until then, what have you found to be true?
Update: a very ripe honeydew I have at home does not squeak at all. And another one that is almost ripe does squeak. When that one is riper, if it no longer squeaks I’ll let you know.
Smooth and refreshing agua fresca will leave you feeling cool as a cucumber.
- Replace the honeydew with a ripe cantaloupe or pineapple.
- If you prefer it sweeter, replace the ice cubes or water with apple juice.
- If you prefer no pulp, pour the melon and cucumber purées through a strainer.
- To chill and not dilute: freeze some agua fresca in an ice-cube tray. Then serve agua fresca poured over one or more of these full-flavored ice cubes.
- Sipping with a straw is optional and definitely more fun.
Makes about 1½ quarts, 6-8 servings
1 small-medium honeydew melon, peeled and seeded
1 large cucumber, peeled
20 medium to large fresh mint leaves
Zest from 1 large lemon
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup ice cubes or ¼ cup water
Fresh mint sprigs or cucumber sticks
- Cut the melon into large chunks, to equal 6 cups.
- Cut the cucumber into large chunks, to equal 2 cups.
- Place the melon chunks in a blender (high-powered blenders work best). Blend 20-30 seconds on high until completely smooth. Pour into a medium-size bowl or pitcher.
- Place the cucumber chunks, mint leaves, zest, lemon juice and ice cubes or water in the blender. Blend 20-30 seconds on high until smooth; then stir it into the melon juice.
- Serve agua fresca over ice in short tumblers. Garnish with fresh mint or a cucumber stick.