Agua Fresca is a hot weather Latin American tradition, usually sold from giant glass vitroleros perched atop restaurant and market countertops. The selection varies with the season, and it's not uncommon to find cucumber and chili agua fresca alongside watermelon, hibiscus, or guava. Here we've used pineapple and jazzed it up with a few sprigs of mint for a light and refreshing beverage that's reminiscent of a Pina Colada, but much lighter.
Outward appearance doesn't matter once it's blended and strained, so feel free to use slightly overripe or bruised fruit. Choice of sweetener can be a controversial topic, with some purveyors saying plain old sugar is just fine, and others swearing by agave nectar or simple syrup since it dissolves so much faster. Macerating the pineapple in sugar for about an hour ahead of time does away with this issue, since the sugar helps bring out the fruit's juice and then dissolves the sugar.
Keep in mind that agua fresca isn't meant to taste like candy and the amount of sugar added depends on the sweetness of your pineapple. The sugar is just to highlight the pineapple's natural sweetness, and the lime juice adds a hint of sour for balance. After that it's a quick trip through the blender and into an ice-filled glass.
About the author: Christianne Winthrop is a freelance food writer, caterer and culinary instructor. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Bob and their beta fish, Hercules.
- 1 small pineapple, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1/8 cup mint leaves, tightly packed
- juice of 1 lime
Combine sugar and pineapple in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for one hour.
After an hour, add the pineapple mixture, water, mint, and lime to a blender. Blend until smooth.
Pour liquid through strainer into a pitcher, pressing on the solids. Serve over ice.