cucumber slices in water

“Cool as a cucumber” isn’t just an expression. Cucumbers lower blood pressure, making you feel refreshed and clear-headed even when it’s muggy out. Cucumbers are also in season: If you didn’t plant them in your own garden, you’re bound to find them at the farmers market. Make the most of their blood-cooling effect with these refreshing drink recipes.

Cucumber-Rosemary Lemonade

The key to this lemonade is balancing the delicate flavors with just enough sweetness, without going overboard on sugar. Start with just a little sweetness, and work upward.

  • 3 large cucumbers 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup water 
  • 2 large (or 3 medium) lemons 
  • 4 tablespoons sugar or agave syrup, plus more to taste

Slice the lemons very thin and, in a bowl, mix with sugar. Mash with a potato masher until a thick syrup forms. Strain into a pitcher, pressing the lemons to extract as much juice as possible.

Peel and chop the cucumbers, and puree cucumbers and rosemary in a blender. Strain this mixture into the pitcher as well. Add water and sugar to taste. Serve over ice with cucumber slices or rosemary sprigs as garnish. Serves about 4.

Cucumber-Watermelon Cooler

  • 5 cups cubed seedless watermelon 
  • 1 large English cucumber 
  • 1/4 cup lime juice 
  • 2 tablespoons honey 

Puree the watermelon in a blender. Strain the puree into a pitcher, pressing to extract the juice. Puree English cucumber and strain it into the pitcher.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the lime juice and honey; then mix it into the juice. Add honey and water to reach your desired sweetness and texture. Serve over ice with cucumber slices as garnish. Serves about 4.

If you’re feeling daring, try adding 2/3 cup of light rum and a pinch of black or pink pepper.

Sparkling Cucumber Water

It’s much easier to drink your 8 glasses a day when water tastes this cool and refreshing. This very simple recipe doesn’t require exact proportions; here’s a general guideline.

  • Half an English cucumber, sliced somewhat thin
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1 liter sparkling water, club soda or seltzer water, chilled

Place cucumber slices in the bottom of a bowl or pitcher, and add just enough water to cover them. Refrigerate for at least an hour, up to overnight.

Add sparkling water to taste, and serve with ice and a twist of lime.

Love it? Try these other fruit-infused water ideas.

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image: derekGavey.