Summer Drinks: The Agua Fresca

Try one of these recipes for a refreshing sip blending garden herbs, veggies and fruit.
Three fresh summer aguas frescas. Strawberry Melon Thyme, Watermelon Hibiscus Mint, and Cucumber Lime.

Three fresh summer aguas frescas. Strawberry Melon Thyme, Watermelon Hibiscus Mint, and Cucumber Lime.

Three fresh summer aguas frescas. Strawberry Melon Thyme, Watermelon Hibiscus Mint, and Cucumber Lime.

Three fresh summer aguas frescas. Strawberry Melon Thyme, Watermelon Hibiscus Mint, and Cucumber Lime.

Throughout Texas, tiny towns are dotted with fruterias. These small shops are dedicated to fruit and refreshment. Here you will find specialties like chili lime fruit cups and elote (corn in a cup) topped with mayonnaise and parmesan cheese. 

One of the specialties of many fruterias is aguas frescas. These traditional Mexican beverages whose name translates to "fresh water," take full advantage of seasonal produce by incorporating it with a little sweetener and water. By experimenting with different pairings and adding some fresh herbs, the varieties are endless. Many shops hold their house recipe very close and the secret ingredients even closer.

Here we have concocted three very different versions. Each has a distinct taste and just the right amount of sweetness. These recipes call for straining the blended liquid through a fine mesh strainer. That is optional and, if you prefer, you can leave the pulp in the drink. Also, to liven things up a bit, consider using sparkling water. These refreshing drinks are sure to make your summer a little brighter.

Strawberry Melon Thyme

The ingredients:

2 cups cantaloupe, peeled and cubed
2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
10 sprigs fresh thyme
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar 1 cup water
5 cups water

The method:

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low and add fresh thyme. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the thyme and add syrup to remaining ingredients (except the 5 cups water) in a blender. Blend until smooth and strain with a fine mesh strainer. Add strained liquid to large pitcher with 5 cups water or sparkling water. Serve chilled. Garnish with fresh thyme sprig if desired.

Hibiscus Watermelon Mint

The ingredients:

5 cups watermelon, peeled, seeded, and cubed 4 hibiscus tea bags
3 sprigs fresh mint
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
6 cups water

The method:

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water and 3/4 cup sugar to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low and add fresh mint. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the mint and add syrup to remaining ingredients (except the 6 cups water) in a blender. Blend until smooth and strain with a fine mesh strainer. Add strained liquid to large pitcher with 6 cups water or sparkling water. Serve chilled. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.

Cucumber Lime

The ingredients:

2 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cubed
juice of 5 limes
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 cups water

The method:

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add syrup to remaining ingredients (except the 4 cups water) in a blender. Blend until smooth and strain with a fine mesh strainer. Add strained liquid to large pitcher with 4 cups water or sparkling water. Serve chilled. Garnish with cucumber slice if desired.

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