Agua Frescas Master Recipe Makes one quart
Agua Frescas, from my native Mexico, combine water, fruit, and sweetener to produce refreshing celebrations of the season. Using the least amount of sweetener allows the flavors of the fruits to burst forth. These drinks can be made with unprocessed fruit, as described below, or with Fruit Coulis as shown in the next master recipe.
- 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (about 8–10 oz) cut into 2-inch pieces. Remove large pits and seeds or, if using berries or grapes, leave whole.
- 3 cups water
- 2–4 tablespoons sweetener (more or less to taste) such as raw honey, maple syrup or Sucanat
Blend the ingredients well, strain, chill if desired, and serve. It is best to drink Agua Frescas right after they are made, but they will keep, if covered in the refrigerator, for 2–3 days. If making ahead of time, re-blend or shake well just before serving.
Note: Straining the Agua Fresca is unnecessary if the fruit you are using has only a few small seeds and you enjoy drinking a more textured liquid.
Agua Frescas made with Fruit Coulis Master Recipe Makes one quart
Having Fruit Coulis on hand makes Agua Frescas easy to assemble.
1 cup Fruit Coulis, fresh or frozen (click here)
3 cups water
Blend Fruit Coulis with water and serve. If Fruit Coulis is frozen, let it partially thaw, then blend.
Fruitful Variations: Many different fruits can be used for making Agua Frescas. I love making them with wild and cultivated berries but I also enjoy making Agua Frescas with apricots, peaches, and pears. Using these basic recipes as a reference point, I am constantly experimenting and I encourage you to do the same.
Wild Black Raspberry Agua Fresca: This tart purple beverage is as pleasing to look at as it is to drink. Red raspberries work equally well.
Use 2 cups black raspberries and ¼ cup raw honey or 1 cup Black Raspberry Coulis and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Wild Blueberry Agua Fresca: A flavorful rich drink, full of antioxidants. Of course cultivated blueberries may be used.
Use 2 cups blueberries and ¼ cup maple syrup or 1 cup Blueberry Coulis and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Elderberry Agua Fresca: Elderberries, famous for immune boosting and blood building, can be made into this delightful drink that has a beautiful magenta color.
Use 2 cups fully ripe elderberries and ¼ cup maple syrup or 1 cup Elderberry Coulis and 1 tablespoon maple syrup and follow preceding Master Recipe.
American or European Black Currant Agua Fresca: Black currants, rich in bioflavonoids, iron and vitamin C, possess a pungent, earthy flavor. They contain little sugar, so adjust sweetener to taste.
Use 2 cups black currants and ¼ cup maple syrup or 1 cup Black Currant Coulis and 1 tablespoon maple syrup and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Peach Nectar Agua Fresca: When our peach trees start ripening, our kitchen is filled with baskets of peaches that need to be eaten or processed into something quickly. This drink is a great way to enjoy some of those peaches.
Use 2 cups peaches, cut into 2-inch pieces with pits removed, and ¼ cup maple syrup or 1 cup Peach Coulis and 1 tablespoon maple syrup and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Wild Grape Agua Fresca Full of autumnal essence, this deep, tangy drink is also very rich in health promoting antioxidants and nutrients.
Use 2 cups wild grapes or cultivated concord grapes and 2 tablespoons raw honey or 1 cup Wild grape Coulis and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Herbal Flavoring Variations: For a fun and tasty treat, add herbal flavors to the Agua Frescas by doing the following:
- Use Herbal Essence Water (see below) instead of plain water.
- Puree 2 handfuls of fresh aromatic herbs, such as mint, lemon balm or anise hyssop, along with the other ingredients, and strain before serving.
- Place 2 handfuls of fresh aromatic herbs into the Agua Fresca after it has been blended. Cover the mixture and let the herbs steep in the Agua Fresca, at room temperature, for at least three hours before serving.
- Doing all of the above together produces the strongest herbal flavor.
Blackberry Mint Agua Fresca: An excellent refreshing drink that is cooling and tasty.
Use 2 cups blackberries and ¼ cup raw honey or 1 cup Blackberry Coulis, and 3 cups Mint Essence Water and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Raspberry Melissa Agua Fresca: Lemon balm, also known as Melissa, a wonderful uplifting herb that has a floral lemon-like flavor. It blends nicely with raspberry in this deliciously inspiring drink.
Use 2 cups raspberries and ¼ cup raw honey or 1 cup Raspberry Coulis, and 3 cups Lemon Balm Essence Water and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Blueberry Anise Hyssop Agua Fresca: A robust energizing drink full of antioxidants.
Use 2 cups blueberries and ¼ cup raw honey or 1 cup Blueberry Coulis, and 3 cups Anise Hyssop Essence Water and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Herbal Essence Waters Master Recipe Makes about 3 cups
Herbal Essence Waters are subtle, refreshing drinks made with fresh aromatic herbs such as mint, lemon balm, and anise hyssop. No boiling or cooking is required — just time to let pure water absorb the essential oils from the plants. To produce the strongest flavor, harvest the herbs during the sunniest part of the day, between 10 am and 2 pm, when their essential-oil content is at its peak.
A quart vessel, preferably a glass jar with a tight- fitting lid
2 handfuls freshly harvested aromatic herb of choice
About 3¾ cups water, enough to cover the herbs and fill the jar
Place herb in quart jar, pour in water, cap jar, and let steep at room temperature for two to eight hours (any longer than eight hours and the herbs may begin to rot, detected by a funky odor.) You may also solar-infuse the liquid by placing the jar in the sun while steeping. When ready, serve the Herbal Essence Water right from the jar by pouring off the water. Or you can strain it, making sure to squeeze out all the water from the plant material. Serve chilled if desired. Store covered in the refrigerator and use within a couple of days.
Mint Essence Water: Invigorating mint water is an herb class favorite.
Use 2 handfuls total of spearmint, peppermint, apple mint, mountain mint, or any other aromatic mint in the Mentha or Pycnanthemum genus and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Lemon Balm Water: Lemon balm, an uplifting and soothing herb, makes a subtle, lemon-like flavored drink.
Use 2 handfuls of lemon balm and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Anise Hyssop Water: Sweet, with an anise flavor, anise hyssop is as enjoyable to drink as it is to view in the landscape.
Use 2 handfuls of anise hyssop and follow preceding Master Recipe.
Plant Identification page from Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q