Fair warning — I’ve got a new obsession…Agua Fresca. Spanish for fresh water. It’s healthy, drop dead gorgeous, and the most thirst quenching drink you’ll ever find. It’s sold on the streets all over Latin America, ladled out of huge jugs. This isn’t juice, or a soda, or a smoothie, or infused water— Agua Fresca falls somewhere in between all of those, and it’s incredibly refreshing. I think the unseasonable heat here in Los Angeles led me in this direction. My interpretation is ultra simple, just the pureed fruit mixed with a little lime and cold water. I serve it over ice, topped off with sparkling water. Keep a pitcher in the fridge and have a glass first thing in the morning, before coffee. Have a glass with dinner instead of a cocktail now and then. This stuff will change your life!
So many different fruits are appropriate for this type of drink. I’ve happened to have a papaya ripening on my dining room table for a few days, but you can use any kind of melon, strawberries, cucumber (it’s a fruit,) mango, just about anything. I like to add lemon or lime juice for a touch of tartness, and I don’t see the need for sugar, although most agua frescas you will find will have sugar in them.
I love the color pf papaya. It’s not like a mango, or a tangerine, or a guava, it has its own soft shade of pinky-orange. The flavor is unusual, it reminds me of melon, and I particularly like it in this drink because it has an exotic, tropical taste that is softened by the water. It’s sweet, so the lime helps balance it out. I’m so happy to have discovered this because, personally, I struggle with getting enough water. I just don’t like to drink it plain. It’s incredibly cost effective, too. One cup of fruit puree makes lots of agua fresca.
- 1 small or 1/2 large ripe papaya
- 2 limes
- berries for garnish (optional)
- Peel the papaya and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and fibrous part with a small spoon.
- Give the fruit a rough chop and puree in a food processor or blender. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. You should have about a cup of puree.
- Strain the puree through a mesh strainer, stirring to push the liquid through. I added water to mine to help it get through. Most of it should go through, you will be left with just a little fiber.
- Add enough water to the puree to make 3 cups liquid. You can fiddle with this proportion and add more water if you like, but remember you'll be serving it over ice, and also may want to add some sparkling water later, so don't dilute it too much to start with. Stir in the juice of one lime. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
- To serve, pour the cold papaya water over ice, and garnish with a slice of lime and a few berries if you like. You can top off your glass with seltzer water if you like bubbles.
Use the formula of 1 part puree to 2 or 3 parts water.
You can make it as fruity or as light as you want, by varying the amount of water or seltzer you add. Add a little sugar if your fruit is too tart, and a little more citrus if it’s on the sweet side. Whatever fruit you choose, the color is going to be glorious, from the pale green of honeydew melon, to the more robust purple of Concord grapes, to the milky yellow of pineapple. The key here is to use good, RIPE fruit (don’t try to do this with canned pineapple juice or a hard mango) and to serve it icy cold. If you have those two things down, you will be blown away.
All I can say is, so many fruits, so little time…
Ready to make your first Agua Fresca? I’ve set up a PINTEREST BOARD with lots of beautiful inspiration, check it out!