Agua Fresca (which translates as fresh water in Spanish) is a wonderfully refreshing (and medicinal!) traditional Latin American summer drink.
Made by combining fresh fruits, herbs or flowers with water and a bit of sugar, this is an easy summer refresher that takes advantage of all the wonderful local fresh produce available at this time of year.
And, by understanding some basic medicinal properties of food according to Chinese Medicine, you’re able to tailor this beverage (or cocktail depending on your mood), to help beat some of the summer side-effects of too much heat and sun. And it’s super easy to make!
NOTE: Traditionally an authentic aqua frescas are made without blenders and done by simply mashing the fruit with a fork or masher before adding the water and sweetener.
If you want a less sweet or intense flavour and want to go for a more gentle favoured water, just add more water to the fruit portion. A great afternoon on the deck hydrator.
Cheers to staying cool and relaxed this summer!
Cucumber Lime Agua Fresca
3 tablespoons water
1 ¾ cups peeled English cucumber slices (about 1 medium cucumber)
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 large limes)
1 ½ cups crushed ice
2 cups sparkling water, chilled
Option: to make a cocktail add a teaspoon of simple syrup and 1oz of vodka per glass
English cucumber ribbons (optional)
Place cucumber slices and 1⁄4 cup water in a blender; process until smooth. Strain mixture through fine sieve into a bowl to measure 1 cup liquid; discard solids. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until thoroughly chilled; stir in lime juice.
Pour 1⁄2 cup cucumber mixture into each glass. Add 1 cup sparkling water to each glass. Ice and alcohol optional
Garnish with cucumber ribbons, if desired.
You can double or triple the recipe if desired to have this waiting in the fridge at a moments notice
For simple sugar, combine 2 tbsp sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a small pot and heat until sugar dissolves. Cool.
Combine cucumber liquid and sugar syrup in a small pitcher before you refridgerate.
The Medicine in your cup
Cucumber – cool, sweet and slightly bitter (peel), cucumber is amazing at clearing heat, quenching thirst and relieving irritability and water retention. The ultimate summer food addition!
Lime – cooling and sour limes are great at regenerating body fluids, quenching thirst, regulating stomach and digestion and can actually help with irritability by moving ‘Qi’ flow in the body (think of an internal traffic jam that starts to flow)
Pineapple and Fresh Basil Agua Fresca
3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint or basil
Fresh pineapple wedges (optional)
Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender; process 1 minute or until smooth.
Strain mixture through a sieve into a pitcher; discard solids. Stir in basil (or mint) Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Serve in chilled glass or over ice (but not if you tend to get bloated or cold), and, if desired, garnish with pineapple wedges.
The Medicine in Your Cup
Pineapple has a sweet and slightly sour taste , aids in digestion and great to help with summer heat and the digestive complaints that sometimes accompany it. If you’re someone who suffers from nasal congestion or retains water easily, it’s best to use this fruit in moderation as overconsumption can lead to ‘dampness’ according to TCM food theory.
Basil – slightly warm but sweet, basil is great for inducing sweating which can help release some summer heat
Mint – cooling, slightly sweet and very refreshing, mint is a great addition to any summer meal or drink. Particularly good if you’re feeling hot and bothered (read: irritable) as it help move stagnated Qi or flow of energy in the body