How to Make Agua Fresca – Great for Family Grills and Parties!
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Well, Labor Day is upon us in the U.S. and that usually marks the end of summer. Or at least for the those who do not live in the far southern states. But regardless, it means for everyone BBQ, grilling, outdoor parties, pools, lakes, camping, and other fun stuff.
Unfortunately, it also means a ton of waste (all the aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and single-use utensils) and these things are so detrimental to the beautiful spaces that we enjoy. But with going zero waste, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the fun and outdoors. And what better way to enjoy the out of doors than with some refreshing low-waste and inexpensive drinks for friends and family?
So to help everyone celebrate this weekend in an environmentally-friendly way whether you are in the states or not, I thought it might be good to show you how to make agua fresca at home using fresh or frozen fruits.
And it is crazy how easy this drink is to make! And with a little bit of creativity, you can make some really awesome and original flavors. And if this is an adult only outing, these make for awesome alcohol mixers! Just saying…
How to Make Agua Fresca
The term agua fresca in Spanish means “fresh water” or “cool water.” These drinks are everywhere in Mexico and the United States. They are traditionally made with water, sweetener, and some flavors such as fruit, flowers, cereals, and seeds.
I was first introduced to agua fresca in Austin, Texas. I love them! Especially while relaxing by the river or playing at my favorite water hole, Barton Springs. There are some amazing ones you could get from food trucks and bodegas all over the city. I’ve had probably every kind of flavor combination you can think of (and many you probably haven’t!). So I thought to go along with showing you how to make your own drinks, I’d give you a few flavor ideas that were some of my favorites.
So to start with, I usually made my sweet water in gallon batches and used it on an as-needed basis. My preferred sweetener has always been agave nectar. It just works really well. It dissolves quickly and adds a light sweetness to the drink.
However, you can use sugar or another preferred sweetener of choice. I haven’t liked the results as much with honey or brown rice syrup but you are welcome to see what you think. I personally have not tried other sweeteners such as stevia or cane sugar so I do not know how those will work out at those ratios. I would recommend testing a small batch first to make sure you like the sweetness level. It is a bit pricey but you could also use coconut water instead and skip making the sweet water.
If you want to make your own sweet water, it is 8 oz. of agave (or another sweetener) to 120 oz. water which makes a gallon in total. In smaller batches that comes to 1 oz. agave to 15 oz. water to make 2 cups total or 1 tablespoon agave to 1 cup of water roughly. If you prefer it less sweet, try 1 tablespoon agave to 2 cups water. If you’d prefer it a little sweeter, try 3 tbsp. to 2 cups water. For my recipe, I’ll stick with 2 tbsp. of agave to 2 cup water.
On the subject of flavors… There is a standard lemon (which makes the best lemonade), watermelon, pineapple, blueberry, strawberry, lime, peach, cantaloupe, and any other fruit you can think of. You can use these in combination with each other or add some mint or even basil! The standard ratio of fruit to sweet water is 3-4 oz. fruit (or combination of) to 2 cups water. Here is a short list of some of my favorites:
- blueberry lemonade
- strawberry limeade
- mango-habanero (or cayenne)
- cucumber-basil (or mint)
That’s it! For something a little different, add a tablespoon of chia seeds to the finished drink.
To keep my lemon and lime juice zero waste, I use a hand juicer for those. It takes just a tiny amount of time and the juice is fresher, more nutrient dense, and better tasting than the bottled stuff from concentrate. I simply use the hand juicer and strain the liquid into my measuring cup until I get the amount I need. If you are doing just a simple lemonade or limeade, you don’t even need to use a blender! Just add the sweet water and lemon/lime juice and stir.
With the fruit, you can juice them if you have a juicer but if you’re like me I prefer the whole fruit for the extra nutrients. And if you have a high-performance blender, you can make it just as smooth as if it were juiced. I use a Vitamix 5200 blender for my aguas frescas and it works wonderfully! With this baby, I can make a smooth unfiltered agua fresca with fresh or frozen fruit in just a few minutes.
With that said, let’s make some drinks!
Looking for other great low-waste recipes for those outdoor gatherings? You might like to check out my vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, easy chickpea salad recipe, vegan queso, and simple avocado brownies (the vegan version here).
If you give this recipe a try, I’d love to see your awesome creation! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to hashtag a photo on Instagram #latesummermama!
Or if you have any questions or feedback, you are always welcome to leave me a comment below. I’d really love to hear from you!
So what are your favorite aguas frescas?
Looking for a great way to enjoy the summer heat? Try an agua fresca! They are lightly sweet and very refreshing drinks that double as a mixer. These are a must-have for those family grills and beach parties!
- 2 tbsp. agave nectar
- 2 cup water
- 2 cups sweet water
- 1/4 -1/2 cup fruit combination (see below)
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds (optional)
- 1/4 oz. lemon juice
- 1/4 cup blueberries, fresh
- 1/4 oz. lemon juice
- 2-3 large strawberries, fresh (about 2-3 large)
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/2 cup cucumber juice
- 2-3 basil (or mint) leaves
- 1/2 cup watermelon fresh or juiced (without seeds)
- 2-3 mint leaves
- 3-4 pieces mango, cubed (fresh or frozen)
- 1/8 tsp. habanero powder
Mix sweetener and water together.
Place everything in the blender.
Turn on blender and turn it to the highest setting. Blend for about a minute or two. Add chia seeds and stir for a minute.
Serve immediately with or without ice.
If you want to make a gallon of sweet water, it is 8 oz. (or 12 oz. for a sweeter drink) of agave to 120 oz. This comes to roughly 2 tbsp. agave per 2 cups water.
If you prefer it less sweet, try 1 tablespoon agave to 2 cups water. If you’d prefer it a little sweeter, try 3 tbsp. to 2 cups water. You can also skip making the agave water and use coconut water instead.
Habanero powder can be substituted with cayenne if sensitive to spice. Mint can substitute basil with cucumber and the reverse can be done for watermelon.
Did you give this recipe a try?
Tag @late_summermama on Instagram and hashtag it #latesummermama.
Have a safe and fun weekend! And happy Labor Day in the US!