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At the end of a hot summer's day, you'll often find us standing in front of the open fridge debating the wisdom of a cold, crisp beer. On the one hand, hello thirst-quencher. On the other, hello eternal cycle of dehydration. (And, uh, slightly more difficult 8am Zoom meeting.) Enter this booze-free watermelon agua fresca: it's not just thirst-quenching, it's actually hydrating, and – bonus! – while it's beautiful, delicious, and impressive enough for a dinner party, it's easy enough to make on a scorching, 100-degree Tuesday.

History of Agua Fresca

Agua fresca originally hails from Mexico; its name literally means “fresh water.” According to Fany Gerson’s research in 2011's Paletas, agua fresca's history can be traced back to the Aztecs, who would commonly mix fruit with their water while journeying from their farms to what is now Mexico City (then Tenochtitlan).

Agua fresca can now be found in restaurants and on street carts throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. The lightly flavored, non-alcoholic drinks are usually fruit- or flower-based and may even include grains and seeds in their concoction.

Agua Fresca Health Benefits

You can drink your way to a healthier heart and body with watermelon agua fresca thanks to the high lycopene content of the fruit. This compound, also found in tomatoes, has been linked to cardiovascular health benefits. Watermelon also boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids, carotenoids, and triterpenoids. Yes, please!

To reap all these benefits – and for optimum flavor – be sure to choose a ripe watermelon, which has been shown to have a higher concentration of lycopene.

When watermelon is no longer in season, there's no reason to stop making these delicious beverages! Head to the farmers market and see what is ripe and ready for use in agua fresca. Some ingredient suggestions include:

Fruits

  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Peach
  • Strawberry
  • Cucumber
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Mango

Seeds and Grains

  • Chia Seeds
  • Melon Seeds
  • Barley

Flowers and Herbs

  • Hibiscus
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Duration
  • Prep Time
  • 6 - 8Servings

Ingredients

Watermelon Agua Fresca Recipe

  • 4 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons agave or pure maple syrup, if desired
  • Mint leaves, to garnish

Preparation

  1. Add watermelon and water to a blender. Blend until completely smooth.
  2. Add sweetener, if desired, and blend again. Transfer to a pitcher. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve if desired.
  3. Stir in mint leaves. Cover the pitcher and place in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 1 hour, allowing the mint leaves to flavor the agua fresca. Serve immediately or store up to two days.

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