A Refreshing Way To Beat The Heat

This is most definitely one of the hottest summers I can remember in a very long time. You know, the kind of heat and humidity where you just stand still and perspire...at 7:30 am. Steamy hot.

When the body's losing fluids so rapidly, it's extra important to keep hydrated. One of the most pleasant ways I've found to quench my thirst on a sultry summer's day is with refreshing water infusions.

Water infused with fruit, vegetables or herbs has its roots in Spanish culture, where it's known as aguas frescas (fresh waters). The flavor is light and subtle, not quite as heavy as a juice or smoothie.

The simplest way to infuse water is Sangria-style: chop up some fruit (or veggies or herbs), place them in a pitcher of cold water and chill in the fridge for a few hours. Pour over ice, garnish, and enjoy. Typically non-sparkling water is used, but you can also make variations using sparkling waters. I'm fortunate to have a fresh spring nearby.

The other method of preparing aguas frescas involves a blender and strainer. Puree the fruit, water and other ingredients together, then strain through a fine sieve for a drink that captures the essence of the fruit.

Your ability to make infused waters is limited only by your imagination. Some fruits, veggies and herbs you might want to try alone or in combination are:
  • orange
  • lemon
  • lime
  • watermelon
  • cantaloupe
  • berries
  • mango
  • pineapple
  • cucumber
  • mint
  • rosemary
  • cilantro
  • basil
  • lavender
Let me share a few recipes I've particularly enjoyed. The key is using the ripest fruit you can find. I prefer my infusions sans any additional sweetener, but you can always throw in a squirt of agave nectar if you so desire.

Herbed Cucumber Aguas Frescas

4 C cucumbers, cubed
6 C of water
handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, crushed
1/4 C fresh lime juice

Blend cucumbers, 2 cups of water, chopped mint leaves and rosemary in the blender until cukes are liquefied. Allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain puree through a fine sieve into a 2 quart pitcher. Add remaining 4 cups of water and lime juice. Stir. Pour over ice and garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Citrus Cucumber Water
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 large cucumber, sliced
1/2 gallon of water

Place all ingredients in a glass pitcher, including water. Allow to infuse for at least two hours before serving over ice.

Cucumber Melon Infusion
1 large cucumber, sliced
1/4 honeydew melon, cubed
1/4 cantaloupe, cubed
1/2 gallon of water

Place melon and cucumber in a glass pitcher and add water. Allow to rest, refrigerated, for two hours and then serve over ice. Garnish with melon balls skewered on a cute glass swizzle stick.

Watermelon Basil Aguas Frescas
8 C seedless watermelon, cubed
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
6 C of water
1/4 C fresh lime juice

Combine watermelon, 2 cups of water and chopped basil in a blender until liquefied. Wait 5 minutes and then strain puree into a 2 quart pitcher. Add remaining 4 cups of water and lime juice. Stir to combine. Pour over ice and garnish with a sprig of basil.

Pear Infused Water
3 ripe pears, cored and cubed
4 C very cold water
1 tsp agave nectar
1 lime, juiced

Place ingredients in a blender. Pulse until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquid and discarding the pulp. Serve over crushed ice, garnished with fresh mint and a slice of pear.

Lemon Lavender Aguas Frescas
3 large lemons, thickly sliced
1/4 C fresh lavender
1/2 gallon of water

Pour water over the lemons and lavender. Refrigerate for two hours and serve over ice. Garnish with a sprig of lavender.

What's your favorite summertime thirst quencher?

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