Farmers' Market Inspiration: Aguas Frescas

It's a familiar and welcome sight at farmers' markets and street fairs around Southern California and other places with Latin American communities: the aguas frescas vendor with jars of cool, colorful beverages made from fruits and flowers like watermelon, tamarind, hibiscus, and lime. Do you have a favorite flavor? Have you made agua fresca at home?

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Aguas frescas, or "fresh waters," are usually simple combinations of fresh fruit and water. Some incorporate flowers, grains, and seeds. A little sweetener might be added, but ripe ingredients like cantaloupe, pineapple, and strawberries often don't even need sugar. Refreshing rather than cloying, aguas frescas are the perfect thirst-quencher while strolling through a street fair, picnicking in the park, or just trying to beat the heat at home. Making agua fresca is also a great way to use seasonal fruits – alone, in combination with each other, or with herbs.

Here are some recipes for classic and inspired agua fresca flavors, but the basic concept of fruit + water + sweetener + ice is easy to play with on your own. Let us know if you have any ideas!

Agua Fresca De Fruta (Basic Fruit Recipe), from
Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus), from 101 Cookbooks
Agua de Sandia (Watermelon), from MexConnect
Agua de Tamarindo (Tamarind), from Saveur
Agua Fresca with Cucumber and Lime, from LA Times
Pineapple Ginger, Cucumber Lemongrass, and Strawberry Thyme Aguas Frescas, from Matt Bites

Related: Recipe Review: Cucumber Ice Pops With Lime & Chile

(Images: Flickr members p200eric licensed under Creative Commons and finna dat licensed under Creative Commons)

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Emily Han (formerly Emily Ho) is a writer, recipe developer and educator on topics such as food preservation, wild food and herbalism. She is author of Wild Drinks and Cocktails (Fall 2015), co-founder of Food Swap Network and creator of Miss Chiffonade