Here’s why you won’t want to go to a 4th of July party without watermelon agua frescas:
- Watermelon agua frescas let you eat loads of watermelon without leaving your hands sticky and probably without dripping pink juice on your shirt
- The kids and
teetotalersmore responsible people will love that there’s a special drink for them (that is…until you spike it, which we will do tomorrow)
- A big ole batch takes 10 minutes of prep (but still feels special!)
What’s an agua fresca? It’s a mixture of of blended and chopped fruit that’s macerated in water and sugar. Before we moved to California a couple years ago I had never heard of them, but thankfully I quickly learned that agua frescas can be found at just about every taqueria and burrito joint in the area. Now, whenever it’s hot, I try to keep one constantly at hand (that is, when I’m not eating sorbet). I think the last time I was in LA I drank about 40 gallons of the stuff.
There’s a lot of recipes out there, but many of them are a bit too sweet for me. Agua frescas need sugar (for the fruit maceration part), but I think it’s best if it’s kept to a minimum. If that’s not your taste, though, you may want to bump up the sugar. You can sample as you go along and see what seems right to you. Bear in mind, though, that the drink will taste sweeter after the fruit has some time to macerate than it does immediately after you make it (during the maceration process the watermelon leaks out its yummy goodness).
So, a little more about that maceration. For the best flavor, make this the night before or early the morning of your BBQ. It’ll last up to 2 days, but you should keep it refrigerated. (I left mine in a cooler with ice because of lack of space in the fridge — worked just great.)
Agua de sandia
Makes a big batch, good for at least 10 people to have their fill
- 1 small to medium watermelon — nicely cube 1/4 of the watermelon, roughly chop the remaining watermelon
- 6 quarts (24 c) water
- Simple syrup (Heat 1 c cane sugar + 1 c water in the microwave or over the stove until the sugar is dissolved. Add more water if you need it.)
Pull out a big ole pot, pitcher or punch bowl. (If you’re as fancy as I wish I were, you might have one of these or — sigh — one of these.) Throw your nicely cubed watermelon in the pot. They will look pretty floating around (and make the drink taste more flavorful, but they may taste a little too limp to eat after they’ve macerated for a while).
Take the rest of the water and, in several batches (it took me 4) blend the watermelon and water. Blend until smooth. Put that all in the pot, too. Finally, add the simple syrup.
Let macerate for at least a couple hours, preferably longer. Overnight is ideal.