So you know I’ve been pretty busy lately, right? I mean all that cooking and blogging was to test out recipes for the wedding (which was absolutely beautiful and wonderful and of course I’m not prejudiced! Why would you think that?). I tried things I’ve never tried before, improved things I’ve been making forever – the quiche, and learned about how to make things in advance and cook only to level where they could be perfected at the time of presentation. But the one thing that stood out as a most delightful, simple and fun thing was the Agua Fresca. Seen below: Mango to the left, Watermelon to the right.
Aren’t they beautiful? Poured over ice with a twist of lime and perhaps a splash of tequila this is a great inexpensive way to wow your family or guests.
Plus it’s a food group! Fruit.
My friend who helped me master (dare I use that word so quickly?) the process tells me that nearly any fruit can work: strawberries, cantaloupe, papaya, kiwi, blueberries, you name it you can probably make Agua Fresca from it. Traditionally in Mexico it’s made from some type of melon.
I didn’t pull out the camera for this. Not to worry. It’s easy. Seriously. All you will need is ripe fruit, some kind of sweetener – be it honey, sugar or agave necter (native to MeHico). Drink it naked for all I care if you are a purist. It’s all good. By the way – a note on agave nectar- it dissolves more quickly than honey or sugar and is notably more intensely sweet. I think I’ll get my hands on some and try it.
Oh, and you need a method to puree and strain the fruit. That can be a mechanical method or blender and then a fine sieve. You might want to strain it twice to get rid of the pulp. Ripe fruit is important for getting maximum juice and flavor.
To prepare a quart jug of Watermelon Agua Fresca I used 1/4 of a watermelon. Don’t worry about seeds, they can be ground right into it because they’ll be strained back out. Puree the watermelon till it’s mostly water, maybe by using 1/4 of it at a time (no rind). Once it’s that clear beautiful color pour it into a container add approx 1/4 cup sugar or a few tablespoons of honey or agave nectar. I can’t be more specific since some people like this sweeter, some not so sweet. On top of that pour 4 cups of water. Shake it up and taste and make more corrections if needed, such as more watermelon, more water, more sugar, etc.. Remember this isn’t supposed to be anything but ‘infused’ water, so it won’t have an intense flavor. My friend, the Mexican cooking expert, says Agua Fresca is to people south of the border what iced tea is to those north of the border. Iced Tea is lightly infused water, right?
For Mango Agua Fresca I used one very ripe mango and did exactly the same process. Mango’s can be very sweet or a bit tart. You’ll have to taste and adjust sweetener and water accordingly. I must add that more of our guests liked the mango flavor over the watermelon. I like both equally. The colors are so lovely and it’s a great way to drink more water without the concern of caffeine we get from tea.
Both mango and watermelon freezes well. Make batches of the puree in advance and keep frozen until you need it.
For special occasions it was suggested that placing a good quality tequila next to the Fresca’s allows guests to put a splash of tequila over their agua fresca for a festive touch. We did that. Kelly (the bride) and I went shopping for a good tequila, but neither of us knew what a good tequila would be. We live in Pennsylvania where we depend on state store employees to assist. We received friendly service but they were as lost as we were. So I called my expert friend and she said a Reposado or Anejo aged tequila would do, and that price would be somewhat of an indicator. We opted for a reposado, mildly expensive, and our focus was on how cool the bottle is…as seen in above photo. Girls are great decision makers! That bottle will never be thrown away. It’s part of the wedding!
I hope you enjoy trying this. Honestly I don’t know why it’s been kept secret from this Irish/Scottish lassie for my whole life, but I’ll be making it all summer!