My first experience with trying to make aguas frescas was in the interest of my Spanish Exploratory class – I developed this day where we ate “Crazy Mexican Sweets.” The Klass mixes were the first I tried and it was horchata. First thing I learned after mixing it in a bottle was that sugar MUST be added. I had some Mexican children in Spanish Exploratory (which cannot be avoided in the scheduling world) and someone politely tasted it and shared that info with me.
So, yes, there are mixes for aguas frescas that are little more that Kool Aid. Here is a link so you can see all of the Klass mixes. I think that the tamarindo and jamaica are passable, but skip the limon – it is very VERY acidic.
Next on the list are bottled aguas frescas – which are a pretty good substitute if you don’t want to take the time to make them yourself. They are also good to bring to a tasting – for example, if your Spanish students wanted to have a food day. Bonadea Drinks offers 11 flavors, including pepino (cucumber?) and has very clean, slick packaging. It is sweetened with agave for you health nuts out there. Morela Aguas Frescas has many flavors as well. Cañita Brands offers only jamaica and tamarindo. Even Kern’s Nectars is getting into the act with jamaica (full of antioxidants!), tamarindo and limon.
Okay, if you don’t know what an agua fresca is, it’s basically a drink made of pureed fruit, sugar and water. The mixture is blended together and strained to make a refreshing beverage. For further enlightenment, here is a Los Angeles Times article on aguas frescas – and another from the L. A. Times on where to find freshly made ones. Apparently, they take their A.F. (aguas frescas) seriously in L. A.
Here is a Guide to Mexican Fruits from MexConnect.com. This is for your reference. After you have read all of the enticing and creative recipes here, you may want to personalize your own fruit! To get you started, here is a Basic Agua Fresca Recipe with variations. Here is another page with the basics – they call them Mexican Coolers.
What follows is basically a collection of recipes and variations I have found on the internet through hours of research…
- Agua de Jamaica from Chow.com
- African Hibiscus Punch (Jus de vissap – called the national drink of Senegal!)
- Sorrel Punch (Jamaican Hibiscus Punch)
- Cucumber Agua Fresca
- Pepino (Cucumber) by Aaron Sanchez
- Agua Fresca with Cucumber and Lime (from Saveur magazine – with Serrano Chile!)
- Watermelon Agua Fresca
- Watermelon and Basil Agua Fresca – uses basil simple syrup
- Watermelon Agua Fresca recipe using Lipton instant lemon iced tea?
- Tamarind Chile Syrup – used as a base for spicy tamarindo drink
- Melon Agua Fresca (Cantaloupe or Watermelon)
- Cantaloupe Agua Fresca with Beet Swirl
- Guava Agua Fresca from MexConnect.com
- Lime Water
- Agua Preparada de Limon Rallado (Lime Zest Cooler) – Rick Bayless’ recipe
- Melon Agua Fresca (cantaloupe and honeydew) – Awesome photos!
- Mango Agua Fresca – from Whole Foods Market
- Mango Mint Agua Fresca
- Mango Pineapple Agua Fresca
- Strawberry Agua Fresca – and another recipe with video
- Berry Melon Agua Fresca – it’s the second recipe in the post
- Blackberry Agua Fresca – uses hibiscus and rosehip tea, too. [note to self: try Blackberry with Sage!]
- Sparkling Blackberry Lime Agua Fresca (with ginger ale)
- Blackberry Limeade – are we getting away from aguas frescas? This Cooking Light article slideshow also has Watermelon Cooler, Strawberry Agua Fresca, and Raspberry Lemonade (I guess to make it more authentic, you could use real lemons and up the sugar…)
- Prickly Pear and Blood Orange Agua Fresca – uses Blood Orange concentrate
- Peach Lavender Agua Fresca – now we’re getting creative!
- MattBites.com has recipes for Pineapple Ginger, Cucumber Lemongrass, and Strawberry Thyme Aguas Frescas
- Honeydew and Mint Agua Fresca – from the Food Network Channel
- Illustrated Pineapple Agua Fresca Recipe
- Tepache – A beverage popular in Mexico made from slightly fermented pineapple flavored with piloncillo and canela
- Chicha de piña – spiced pineapple drink
- This site has various recipes for licuados and aguas frescas, including a Ginger Lemonade and a Vampiro (beets, pineapple, carrots, celery and orange!)
- Agua de nopal – many Mexicans eat nopales as a diabetes preventative – here it is in a drink
- Agua fresca de tuna – tuna is the fruit of the nopal cactus
While I was researching, I came across Rachel Laudan’s blog. She has a lot of posts about exotic foods, but if you click on her Aguas Frescas tag, you can find several unusual drink recipes. Here is one for Agua de Viernes de Dolores which I think is colored from beet root but it has all sorts of fruit and even shredded iceberg lettuce in it! Another unusual agua is made with Apricot Leather – it actually has Middle Eastern provenance.
Finally, I did an Amazon.com search to see if anyone had a book out yet on aguas frescas. I found Cool Waters: Refreshing Homemade Thirst Quenchers by Brian Preston-Campbell – This looks like a really good book with recipes for flavored waters and ice cubes.
P.S. – I did find an interesting variation on Horchata from a restaurant called Guelaguetza in Los Angeles. It has chopped prickly pear fruit (tuna) and pecans (nueces) on top. Yum!