Friday, May 27, 2011

Aguas Frescas hits the spot when if is hot out!

When it is hot out, a tall glass of Agua fresca can hit the spot, especially when it has been so, so hot in San Miguel de Allende.  Aguas Frescas can be found in large glass containers in the markets all over Mexico.  This light and refreshing drink comes in a variety of flavors:  milk-looking guava, deep garnet red jamaica, bright red watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, vibrant yellow pineapple, orangey-brown tamarind, pale-green lime, creamy rice, seeds... 
I was in the market the other day and came across a whole box of jamaica blossoms.  Jamaica has a dusty, somewhat tart cranberry taste.  It is made from the so called flowers of a smaller plant of the Hibiscus family.  It's sold as "flor de jamaica", flower of the jamaica, but it is actually the flower's calyces (the coverings of the flower buds).  I have even used them in some of my more exotic quesadillas.
A refreshing pitcher of Agua de Jamaica.

2 - 3 cups fruit, finely chopped
          (very important that the fruit be very ripe and sweet)
4 cups water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1/3 cup sugar, or to taste (some prefer to substitute honey)

Puree the fruit in the blender with a ½ cup of the water. Strain into a glass jar or pitcher. Add remaining water, lime juice and sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Chill before serving. Garnish with chopped fruit.

** With the Jamaica or Tamarind, boil in the water with the sugar for 5 minutes, let cool and then drain thru a sieve. Add lime. Chill before serving. (Use jamaica flower for another use, a filling in a quesadilla)

** For a different twist, add a few large orange peels to the jamaica when boiling. Jamaica is high in vitamin C & is a diuretic. It is acidic, so only store it in a glass or plastic container.

** Add tequila, rum or white wine to the aguas fresca for a refreshing summertime cocktail.
Rick Bayless has a recipe for Agua Fresca de Jamaica with red wine and Cointrea, a special kind of Sangria.


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