Texas Living

Recipe: Agua Fresca

By Susan Wiles 8.10.23

OK, it is hot. This summer, which is still young, is breaking all kinds of records, and I am trying all kinds of ways to stay hydrated.

In this heat, even an ice-cold glass of lemonade feels too sugary to be hydrating. Plain water does not do the trick, either. I still remember reading “The Long Winter,” when Laura Ingalls Wilder is helping her Pa harvest the wheat under the blazing prairie skies. Ma surprises them with a refreshing drink of vinegar, ginger, a little sugar, and cool water — the conventional wisdom even then being that it is hard to drink enough plain water to satiate a brutal thirst. 

Fortunately, in Texas, we have an even older, equally refreshing solution that dates back to Aztec culture: agua fresca. This delightful drink combines the flavor and nutrition of fresh fruits, the tang of lime, the spike of herbs, and that all-important H2O. All you need are a blender, your choice of fruit, some lime, and maybe a sprig of mint — or basil, or thyme, or a bit of ginger — the world is your agua!

I just happened to have a not-so-ripe cantaloupe in my refrigerator, and I asked my good buddy Google what to do with it. To my delight, turning it into an agua fresca was the first suggestion to pop up. I blended it with some lime juice, fresh mint, ginger (here is my plug for Trader Joe’s tiny trays of frozen ginger!), water, and voila! Somehow the day seemed less hot, and I felt more energized.

You can use any fruit; popular ones besides cantaloupe include watermelon, cucumber, mango, berries, and pineapple. It’s a great time to be creative; you can mix and match your favorite fruits to your heart’s content. Most people recommend straining cantaloupe and pineapple unless you want to keep the fiber. And these fruity concoctions are best consumed within 24 hours for maximum freshness. I bet they won’t last that long.

Following these proportions should steer you right:

  • 4 cups fruit
  • 3 cups water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Fresh herbs, to taste

Simply add all your ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and, if you prefer, strain the pulp through a nut milk bag or very fine strainer.

Some superb fruit combos to try include:

  • Watermelon, lime, and mint.
  • Orange, lime, and tamarind.
  • Strawberry, melon, lime, and thyme.
  • Guava, grapefruit, lime, and rosemary.

Cheers! Find more refreshing ways to cool off with our retro slushie recipes.

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