Make Your Own Infused Water
There are plenty of good reasons to drink more water. Good hydration improves circulation, helps fight illnesses, aids in digestion and weight loss, keeps hair and skin looking younger and reduces fatigue. Although the old “8 x 8” rule of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day has come under scrutiny in recent years, most agree that drinking water is a healthy habit to keep.
When it comes to beverages, though, water is kind of dull. Sure, sometimes restaurants might class it up a little with a lemon wedge, but the water on the table is often the “backup" drink, should you reach the bottom of your iced tea or soda pop. Water lacks variety. Panache. In an increasingly health-conscious culture, bottled water sales are up and soda consumption is declining, but water continues to lack style points. That lemon wedge is a good start, but why stop there?
Infusing drinking water with fruits, vegetables and herbs straight from the garden is an easy way to bring flavor, variety and style to everyday hydration.
Many of the crops growing in the backyard are good candidates for adding taste and color to plain old water. The process is simple. Slice, cube or chop freshly-washed fruits and vegetables, then add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of produce per quart of water in an airtight container. To extract more flavor produce can be muddled, but will lose some of its visual appeal. Herbs can also be used to add flavor to water. Use 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of your favorites to a quart of water and bruise or muddle to help release flavor.
Refrigerate water overnight to allow flavors to infuse. Fruits and vegetables will usually last 2 to 3 days in the water before they begin to break down. Small batches are recommended, but the water may be strained to extend its shelf life.
Infused water can be strained and transferred into your favorite bottle for hydration on the go, or poured into serving pitchers with the fruit or vegetables left in to add a splash of color to the table. The following suggestions will get you started, but this list is far from comprehensive.
Slice or cube into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Thick-skinned berries should be cut or lightly crushed to help release flavor. Citrus can be used in smaller amounts.
- Citrus: Lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit
- Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Melons: Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew
- Other: Mango, apples, peaches, cherries
Cucumber-infused water is becoming more common, but other vegetables can be used to add subtle flavor to drinking water:
Slice thin to impart more flavor. If using hot peppers, start with a single pepper per quart to gauge intensity.
Crush or bruise herbs to draw the most flavor. Herbs can be used on their own or combined with fruits or vegetables for more impact. The herbs we recommend here all pair well with a wide variety of produce:
Try these refreshing flavor mashups or make up your own!
- Cantaloupe-Hot Pepper