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?
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 BajaCalifornia.com
• 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