Aguas Frescas are our favorite everyday drinks even with the booming soft drink industry in México that slowly but surely is taking this form of quenching your thirst away from our culture and traditions, unfortunately. You can still find these drinks being sold at commercial centers or at the downtown’s main streets and markets. You can see this link to get an idea of the drink stands. Aguas Frescas in Mexico
The flavors are unique, delicious and endless; being the most common: Jamaica, Horchata, Tamarindo, Piña (Pineapple), Melón (Cantaloupe), Limón (Lime) and Sandía (Watermelon). Each region in the country has its own versions of Aguas Frescas using the local fruits, like guayabas (guavas), plátanos (bananas), fresas (strawberries), Mango, naranjas (oranges), pepinos (cucumber), pitaya fruit, Guanábana, local plums also known as ciruelas and Jobos… well I know you get the idea. Mostly whatever is in season to take advantage of the sweetness of the fruit. We love to make drinks using the bounty around us. An Agua Fresca is an easy combination of fruit, sugar, water and ice. Some of this drinks also have added milk.
NOTE: Before adding sugar, taste to adjust to your personal taste. Maybe you would like more or less sugar. If you feel the consistency of the drink is too thick or dense for your palate, just add more water.
Agua de Jamaica / Hibiscus Flowers Drink
Jamaica (Hibiscus) Flowers are used in different parts of the world to make a cold or hot tea sweetened with sugar. There has been some Medical studies which indicate that it lowers high blood pressure and also has diuretic effects. The flavor is on the tart side similar to a cranberry juice. In México, it is also used for granites, ice pops and sangria. Of the many Aguas Frescas, this in particular is my favorite because of its tart fruity flavor and it is very easy to prepare too.
Ingredients for 2 quarts *of Jamaica Drink
- 1 ¼ cup of Hibiscus Jamaica Flowers
- 3 cups of water
- 4 cups of water to make 2 quarts of the final drink
- ½ cup of sugar
- Ice cubes
1. Place the flowers in a small pot with the 3 cups of water. Bring them to a boil. Boil them for about 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat.2. Set aside for at least 4 hours, you can also make this step overnight.
3. Strain the liquid into a pitcher and add the 4 cups of water and sugar. You can adjust the added water if you feel it is to tart to your palate.
Stir, add ice cubes and let it chill. Enjoy.
Agua de Tamarindo / Tamarind Drink
These sour pods after being soaked in water and strained produce a pulp used for cold drinks, hot drinks like Atole, ice cream, popsicles and as a sauce for some dishes in Mexico. Here in the States it is sold in Asian, Indian, Caribbean and African markets since is widely know in these cultures.
In Mexico it is also used to confection a sweet treat made of the pulp and sugar then rolled to form a small ball coated with sugar or dried powdered piquin pepper.
For the medicinal uses and properties of Tamarind you can click HERE.
Ingredients enough to make 2 quarts*
- 2 cups of tamarind pods (8 ounces)
- 8 cups of water
- ½ cup of sugar or more if needed
1. Peel the Tamarind pods making sure to remove must of the shells.
2. In a medium size pot place the tamarind pots with 4 cups of water.
Bring to a boil for about 2 minutes.
3. Set aside and let it steep for about 2 hours. Tamarind pulp should look soft.
4. Strain the pulp into a wide mouth glass pitcher using a colander or fine sieve. For this you will need to your hands in order to get as much of the pulp through the sieve. You will be left with only the seed and veins in the sieve. The rest of the pulp will be in the pitcher.
5. Now, add the sugar and the remaining water. Refrigerate and serve with ice cubes. And remember to stir the drink before serving
Agua de Horchata / Rice and Cinnamon Drink
Horchata in Mexico is usually made of rice, cinnamon and vanilla. In the south of the country you can also find the Almond and coconut Horchata and in some regions in Central Mexico there is an Horchata made of dried Cantaloupe seeds. Some cooks use milk in the drink and others prefer not to add it. I like to add 1 cup of whole milk.
Ingredients for 3 quarts* of Horchata
- 2 cups of long grain rice
- 1 stick of Mexican cinnamon
- 4 cups of hot water
- 6-8 cups of extra water to finish the drink
- 1 cup of milk (OPTIONAL)
- ¾ cup of sugar or more if you like your drinks sweeter
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla
- Ice cubes
1. Place the rice and cinnamon stick in a large glass bowl and cover with the 4 cups of hot water. Cover with a dish or plastic wrap and let it soak overnight.
2. The next day place the rice and cinnamon with the water in your blander and process until it becomes a smooth watery paste.
3. Using a colander strain the mixture into a wide mouth pitcher stirring the mixture to help the liquid to pass through.
4. Add milk if using, vanilla and the rest of the water. Stir in sugar to your taste. Refrigerate. Stir before serving since the rice mix tends to settle at the bottom. Serve with ice cubes.
¡Buen provecho!... and keep enjoying your Summer and the many things it brings to your life!