Italy

Categorized | Featured, Recipes

Aguas Frescas Are Refreshing More and More in the U.S.

Print Friendly

It’s better to put ice in the glasses, so your agua fresca isn’t watered down.

Aguas frescas need no introduction in San Antonio. They are a colorful, cooling fixture at many of our best taquerias and come in bold flavors, such as sandia (watermelon), tamarindo and horchata (rice).

The more these drinks become popular elsewhere in the United States, the more changes you’ll find.

During the annual Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference at the Culinary Institute of America’s San  Antonio campus, New York chef Roberto Santibañez offered a tasty mixture of tradition, limón and jamaica (hibiscus), with the decidedly different but no less welcome combinations of flavors, including  one that blends pineapple and lime with spinach.

Another sign of their growing acceptance is the MiFruta line of aguas frescas from Minute Maid, which come in a variety of flavors, including jamaica, strawberry-banana, mango-orange, pineapple, and strawberry.

Aguas frescas are easy to make in your own home, if you have a blender and plenty of ice to cool them down. Like smoothies, aguas frescas are limited only by your own imagination.

A refreshing agua fresca is a great way to stave off the heat.

These are not fruit juices, though they do use fruit as well as flowers, rice hulls and tamarind seeds among the flavors. But unlike orange juice, which proudly displays it pulp, most aguas frescas are filtered through sieves in order to be as clean and smooth as possible.

Take a tip from Santibañez’s recipes. Fill your pitcher only with the agua fresca, and leave the ice to the glasses. Otherwise, your refreshing drink could get watered  down all too quickly.

Following are five recipes that Santibañez, author of “Rosa’s New Mexican Table” and “Truly Mexican,” presented during the San Antonio symposium.

Mexican Limeade (Agua de Limón)

2 limes, rinsed, quartered and seeded
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups water

Combine the limes, skin and all, sugar and water in a blender. Blend until very smooth, then strain through a sieve into a large pitcher.

Season to taste with more sugar; stir thoroughly. Pour into ice-filled glasses.

Makes 4 servings.

From Roberto Santibañez/Latin Flavors, American Kitchens

Pineapple Agua Fresca (Agua de Piña y Hierba Buena)

Pineapple Agua Fresca

2 cups ripe pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 cup sugar, plus more, to taste
4 cups water, divided use
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
8 spearmint leaves (optional)
Ice cubes

Blend the pineapple, sugar and mint along with 4 cups of water in a blender until it is very smooth.

Strain the pineapple mixture through a sieve, smashing the solids to force out as much juice as you can, and into a large pitcher.

Gradually season the agua fresca to taste with more sugar and lime juice.

Chill the pitcher in the refrigerator, then stir thoroughly; add the mint sprigs, if using, and pour the agua fresca into ice-filled glasses.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From Roberto Santibañez/Latin Flavors, American Kitchens

Cucumber Agua Fresca (Agua de Pepino)

4 cups water, divided use
1/2 cup sugar, plus more, to taste
1 English cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup lime juice, plus more, to taste
Spearmint sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Ice cubes

Blend 3 cups of water with the sugar in a blender until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 30 seconds. Add the cucumber and lime juice and blend again until it is very smooth.

Strain the mixture through a sieve and into a large container, and then stir in 1 cup of water. Gradually season the agua fresca to taste with more sugar and lime juice.

Chill the pitcher in the refrigerator, then stir, thoroughly, add the mint sprigs, if using them, and pour the agua fresca into ice-filled glasses.

Makes 6 to 8 portions.

From Roberto Santibañez/Latin Flavors, American Kitchens

Hibiscus Agua Fresca (Agua de Jamaica)

5 cups water, divided use
2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
3/4-1 cup sugar, divided use
Ice cubes

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized pot; add the hibiscus flowers, turn off  the heat, cover the pot,  and let the flowers steep for 20 to 30 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a sieve and into a large pitcher, pressing on the flowers to extract as much liquid as possible, and then discard the solids.

Add 3/4 cup sugar and stir until it dissolves.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From Roberto Santibañez/Latin Flavors, American Kitchens

Pineapple, Lime and Spinach Agua (Agua de Piña con Espinaca y Limón)

1/2 cup pineapple, peeled and chopped
1 lime, rinsed, quartered and seeded
1/2 cup baby spinach, lightly packed
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups water
Ice cubes, as needed

Combine the pineapple, lime, skin and all, spinach and sugar in a blender with 3 cups of water. Blend until it is very smooth, and then strain through a sieve into a large pitcher.

Gradually season the agua fresca to taste with more sugar and stir thoroughly, then pour the agua fresca into ice-filled glasses, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

From Roberto Santibañez/Latin Flavors, American Kitchens

 

Be Sociable, Share!
Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.