As much as I love my lemonade, I do seek variety in my private beverage life. For the past two summers, for your enjoyment and mine I’ve suggested agua frescas, which can be made in infinite, delicious variety. Suzen loves watermelon but even she cannot down a whole one. And, we always have a supply of cucumbers on hand. It’s a no-brainer: I went looking for an agua fresca with both of these summer ingredients.
By definition, an agua fresca is made by infusing water with the essence of fruit. Ah, the “essence” thing. I am really not an essence guy. That’s why, when I make lemonade, I make it with extra lemon juice and less water: I want a drink providing strong flavor, if not a jolt.
The recipes I found for watermelon + cucumber called for cups of water combined with the fruit in a blender. But, but that watermelon is already mostly water: 92% water and 6% sugar. And that cucumber is already 96% water.
So, I created this agua fresca where all the water comes just from the fruit. A little sugar is added in the form of mint simple syrup, essential sweetness to help extract the fruit flavor and intensify the beverage for a warm summer day.
This is a lovely daytime refreshment. And, at night, there are alcohol-added versions for superior cocktails. Look for that post tomorrow. You may still, tomorrow, have some of this agua fresca left. Or at least the second half of the watermelon.
Stored in the fridge, this beverage is good for 2-3 days with the flavor actually mellowing on Days 2 and 3. On Day 1, fresh from the blender, you will pick up the separate notes of both the watermelon and cucumber. Days on, the flavors have gracefully merged.
Watermelon and Cucumber Agua Fresca [with no Agua!]
Yield: about 2 quarts
½ cup mint simple syrup [2 cups sugar, 2 cups water, handful of washed mint leaves]
Half a medium sized watermelon
2 medium cucumbers, ideally seedless
Mint or basil leaves, stems of herbs for decoration but not flavor [optional]
If you don’t have any on hand — I always do, always — prepare the mint syrup. Place 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water in saucepan. Stir to mix with the heat on medium high. Bring to a boil. Add a handful of washed mint leaves. Return to the boil for one minute, simmer for five minutes and remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature. Strain out the leaves and refrigerate.
Take the skin off the watermelon and cut into medium chunks — this is going into the blender so don’t worry. Remove any large seeds.
Peel, halve and seed the cucumbers. Cut into chunks.
Working in batches if your blender is small, put the watermelon and cucumber chunks into your blender. Process for a minute until well liquified. Strain into a bowl. Yes, you want to strain because no matter how strong your blender — and we use a VitaMix — there is still watermelon residue that I prefer to strain out. If you want a “thicker” beverage, then you can forgo the straining.
Add the mint syrup to the bowl and stir until well combined.
Refrigerate and begin drinking when ice cold.
Source: Brian O’Rourke
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4 for1/250th second at ISO‑100