Tuesday, August 18, 2009

GUANAJUATO, MEXICO - Aguas Frescas – Refreshing Water-Based Drinks


Cindi Bower

During the Dog Days of Summer, people always seem to be looking for refreshing drinks to cool them down and replenish fluids. Soft drinks are popular, but are often too sweet to be refreshing. Plus, the carbonation tends to bloat the stomach, which makes one feel too full to drink enough liquid to replenish fluids lost from sweating. Water will replenish necessary fluids but is not always refreshing.

The Aztecs, who lived in the area that is modern-day Mexico City, devised the perfect refreshing drink – agua fresca, literally “fresh water.” The drink has survived through the centuries in Mexico and its fame has spread through Central America, the Caribbean, and into the United States of America.

Just about any fruit can be used to make agua fresca. If you have some fruit that is a little too ripe, it is perfect to use in your agua fresca because the fruit is pureed in a blender before being mixed with water. Some aguas frescas include cucumber, tamarind pods, hibiscus flowers, spices, nuts, seeds, and even rice.

Very little sugar is used to make the drinks, so they aren’t cloyingly sweet like soft drinks often are. They are also high in vitamins and minerals, which give you a nutritional boost.

Aguas frescas are easy to make. You can use one type of fruit or use a combination of fruits.

Recipe (makes about 2 ½ quarts)

3 cups coarsely chopped fresh fruit
6 to 8 cups of water
½ to ¾ cup sugar (to taste...use less if the fruit is sweet; use more if you are using citrus or sour fruits)
¼ cup lime juice (optional)

Put the fruit and about 2 cups of water into a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour the puree through a sieve into a large pitcher. Add the rest of the water, the sugar, and the lime juice. Stir well and add more water and sugar if needed. Serve well chilled.

Some of my favorite aguas frescas are pineapple, strawberry, cantaloupe and watermelon.

Next time, I’ll share recipes for aguas frescas made with hibiscus flowers (agua de Jamaica), tamarind pods (agua de tamarindo) and horchata (made with rice). These three aguas frescas are the three most common aguas frescas in Mexico.

Until then, cool off with a tall glass or two of agua fresca made with your favorite fruit. Enjoy!


A Walk Through Mexico's Crown Jewel A Guanajuato Travelogue


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