If you haven’t tried aguas frescas before, I can confidently say that you’re missing out on one of the best life’s drinkable pleasures!While we are all familiar with traditional Mexican foods, Mexican drinks deserve our full attention!
Mexicans drink aguas frescas on a daily basis to quench their thirst after a long day under the scorching sun.
In this article, I’ll share the recipes of different aguas frescas varieties. Let’s see!
Background and Overview
As you already know, the typical smoothies and juices are made by squeezing the liquid content from fruits. We may add water and milk to dilute the drink, but the fruit will always hold a higher percentage.
Aguas frescas, on the other hand, are based primarily on water. The fruit is only added to provide a light taste that doesn’t overwhelm the refreshing effect of water. Fun fact: “aguas frescas” translates to “cool water” in Spanish!
Although they’re usually based on fruits, aguas frescas can also be made from vegetables! Mexicans love using cucumbers since they add a lot to the overall refreshing hype. I’ve seen families using more exotic ingredients like hibiscus flowers, tamarind, chia seeds, and even rice!
How to Make the Original Fruit Aguas Frescas
Let’s start by talking about the most basic way to make aguas frescas.
Step 1: Choose the Fruit
Technically speaking, you can use any fruit to make flavorful aguas frescas.
However, you should choose fruits that are currently in season to benefit from their satisfying sugary content.
Your fruit choice will not only determine the taste, but it can also add some additional preparation steps.
For instance, citrus fruits, such as lemon and oranges, can be directly juiced into the water without a blender.
Larger fruits, like watermelon and apples, will need you to remove their seeds, stems, and skins before shoving them into the blender.
Step 2: Combine the Ingredients
In your blender, combine 4 cups of your freshly cut fruit, 3 cups of water, 1 juiced lime, and as much sugar as you see fit. Now turn on your blender on high setting and purée until you can’t see any fruit bits.
For granulated sweeteners, such as brown and white sugar, you should purée the mix for at least 1 minute. That’s because the crystalline form of these sweeteners needs time to fully mix into cold water. If you picked a naturally sweet fruit, the blending time should be even longer since the water will be already saturated.
Pro tip: Instead of adding the sugar directly to cold water, stir it in lukewarm water beforehand. It’ll take much less time to dissolve because heat naturally breaks the crystalline structure.
Step 3: Use a Strainer (Optional)
Pour your agua fresca through a strainer placed over a large pitcher. This ensures that the drink is 100% free from any fibers or small seeds.
But to be honest, I rarely use strainers for my aguas frescas. As you might already know, fruit fibers are extremely important for your health, especially your bowel movement.
Some fruits, however, must be poured through the strainer. Guavas, pineapples, and blueberries have a high content of seeds and fibers that can’t be skimmed by hand.
Step 4: Serve Cold
Add plenty of ice cubes to the pitcher and let it sit for a while to serve it cool and refreshing! You can place lime wedges over the serving glasses to add an extra touch of freshness.
And that’s it! Now you know the authentic way that Mexicans use to make their daily aguas frescas.
Aguas Frescas Variations
As you might already know, Mexican cuisine is well-known for its impeccable versatility; aguas frescas are no exception.
In this section, we’ll take a look at the different ingredients that you may see in the Mexican streets.
1. Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea)
Despite bearing the name of Jamaica, agua de Jamaica is one of the most famous drinks in Mexico.
In essence, it’s more like a tea than a juice since it’s made from the dried petals of the roselle flower, aka hibiscus. However, when served cold, it quenches the thirst better than any juice. And because it’s rich in antioxidants and vitamins, it’s a lot healthier, too!
Now let’s see how you can make it:
Step 1: Boil 3 Cups of Water
To extract the color and flavor, the hibiscus petals need to be steeped in hot water. Start by boiling 3 cups of hot water in one of your saucepans.
Step 2: Pour and Wait
Place your hibiscus petals in a large bowl and fully submerge them with the boiling water. Then, cover the bowl with a saucepan lid and let the petals steep for 15–20 minutes.
Step 3: Remove the Petals
Strain the contents of the bowl into a large pitcher to discard the hibiscus petals. Now add sugar to taste and stir for 2 minutes.
Step 4: Add Water and Ice
Add 4 cups of water with a bunch of ice cubes. Before serving, taste for sweetness and add more sugar if the water diluted the mix too much.
2. Chia Fresca (Lemonade With Chia Seeds)
If you’ve gone to Mexico before, you must’ve heard about chia seeds since they’re literally used in everything! I like to add them to most of my juices and smoothies since they add a fascinating texture.
Just like hibiscus tea, chia seeds are loaded with plenty of health benefits. For one, they contain fibers, proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.
Here’s how to make chia fresca:
Step 1: Prepare the Lemon Juice
Pour about 50 ounces of cold water into a pitcher. Slice 4 large lemons in half and squeeze them into the water. You can use a lemon squeezer if you don’t want to hassle with squeezing.
Pro tip: before slicing the lemons, roll them back and forth over your counter while pressing down with your palm. This will loosen up the juices to effortlessly squeeze the lemons later.
Now add sugar and stir until you’re satisfied with the taste.
Step 2: Add the chia seeds
Add 2 teaspoons of chia seeds to the pitcher and stir them well. Let the mix sit for 10 to 20 minutes so that the seeds can absorb enough water to develop their unique gelatinous texture.
Step 3: Serve Cool
Add a bunch of ice cubes into the pitcher and serve your drink with a lime wedge or a sprig of mint to add an additional touch of freshness.
Before pouring into the glasses, stir the drink thoroughly to evenly disperse the chia seeds.
3. Horchata de Arroz (Rice Drink)
I know what you’re probably thinking: rice is the last thing you’d want to add to a drink. But believe it or not, it’s actually pretty appetizing!
Start by pouring a cup of uncooked white rice into a blender. Add 5 to 6 cups of water and blend for about 1 minute.
Then, pour the mix into a large pitcher and add 2 cinnamon sticks. Now let sit for 3–6 hours to allow the rice to steep the flavor.
Afterward, strain the mix to remove the rice and cinnamon and add half a cup of milk into the filtered drink.
Add vanilla extract and sugar to taste and stir well. Serve cold and enjoy!
Whether you choose fruits, vegetables, chia seeds, hibiscus petals, or even rice, aguas frescas will always have that unique refreshing feel.
Remember, you’re not making a regular smoothie or plain juice.
The most important ingredient of aguas frescas is water. This is the secret behind the priceless thirst-quenching attribute.
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