Aguas Frescas are super light and ultra-refreshing beverages and are generally made with cold water blended with fruit, citrus, and a natural sweetener such as agave nectar or honey. Translated from Spanish, aguas frescas mean “cool waters” and are an integral beverage for cooling down when temperatures spike in Mexico and the Southwestern United States. With the popularity of taco trucks and Mexican-inspired cooking on the rise in Canada, pre-made aguas frescas are beginning to show up in grocery stores and on restaurant menus. Aguas frescas are simple to make at home and don’t require any unusual ingredients or equipment to craft, so let your imagination run wild and allow your thirst to be quenched by keeping a pitcher of aguas frescas handy in the fridge at all times.
How to make aguas frescas
Aguas frescas come together quickly with the help of a blender and a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. For best flavour fruit should ideally be at peak ripeness, use a single type of fruit or experiment with different combinations. Blend the fruit and cold water together and push through a sieve or cheesecloth into a glass or pitcher filled with ice. Add a sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar to taste (you can skip this step depending on the fruit used and its natural sweetness) and a squeeze of lime or other citrus fruit to brighten the flavour of the fruit. Fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint, basil, and rosemary can be used as a tasty garnish that also adds a sophisticated touch to the final look of your agua fresca.
Fruity ideas for your next batch of aguas frescas
Aguas frescas can be made from a seemingly unending list of fruits both sweet and on the slightly savoury side. Canadian harvests offer a large selection of possibilities for making your own aguas frescas; watermelon, peaches, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, plums, nectarines, and raspberries are all delicious bases for a refreshing glass of agua fresca. Cucumbers, tomatoes and even zucchini can be used to make excellent aguas frescas with a less cloying taste; lime or lemon juice are especially tasty additions for these types of aguas frescas and they highlight the fresh taste of these fruits. Ripe pineapple, mango, guava and papaya bring the refreshing taste of the tropics to any recipe for the perfect summertime serving of agua fresca, look for frozen versions of these fruit if you can’t find ripe versions in the produce aisle.
Interesting add-ins to take aguas fresca to the next level
Chia frescas are a traditional variation of an agua fresca that involves adding whole chia seeds to the finished agua and allowing it to sit until the seeds have thickened the drink to a gel-like consistency. Chia frescas are especially beneficial to drink during the summertime, chia seeds can absorb up to 10 times their own weight in water which makes this a super hydrating drink when the temperature climbs. In that same vein, replacing regular water with coconut water the next time you make agua fresca makes this a high-potassium drink that will help replenish your natural levels after a tough workout. For a sophisticated summer sipper add a generous splash of sparkling water or club soda and it’s not unheard of to add a splash of vodka or rum to take your agua fresca from a daytime beverage to a nighttime cocktail. Hot sauce is surprisingly tasty when added to a watermelon, peach, or pineapple aguas frescas, the heat mingles with the sweetness of the fruit to create a dynamic flavour combination. Bitters are no longer only for cocktails and will bring life to a pitcher of cucumber agua fresca, especially when garnished with a small bouquet of cilantro and fresh basil.