I can’t count how many times we have sat down in a little restaurant in Mexico after shopping, errands, or just being tourists. Hot, dusty, and foot-tired, we are here for the day’s comida corrida, an inexpensive mid-day meal that is the closest thing to a Mexican home cooked meal, except a bill comes at the end. Nevermind that. We appreciate a basic, well prepared, three or four course lunch that invariably includes a cold pitcher of agua fresca. Maybe there will be a choice between two fruit flavors. Maybe no choice, and we are happy with whatever we get.
Aguas frescas are nothing more than fresh, tropical fruit blended with water, and lightly sweetened. You can get fancy and use carbonated water for a bubbly version. A copious amount of ice assures that the pitcher is running with condensation, leaving a wet spot on the tablecloth.
Common fruit options are papaya, piña (pineapple), sandia (watermelon) and naranja (orange), in which case it’s called a naranjada. Limón (lime) agua fresca is also common, which is a limonada. Guava would be good, too, but be sure to strain out the buckshot seeds. We always ask for ours with no sugar, or poco — a small amount. We are no match for the Mexican sweet tooth.
I used Archimedes’ Principle to get an exact proportion of three parts water to one part fruit by filling a quart measuring cup with 2 2/3 cup water, and dropping in chunks of fruit until the water level reached the four cup mark. A little tidbit of knowledge from science class too many years ago, and in this case, maybe precision carried to an unnecessary degree.
- 1 part chopped, fresh fruit to 3 parts cold water
- Sweetened to taste with sugar or stevia, or not sweetened at all, if the fruit is sweet enough
- Lots of ice
- Mix well in a blender with sweetener of choice until fruit is pureed.
- Pour into an ice-filled glass.
Proportions of water and fruit are up to you — more watery or more fruity, depending on your taste. Straining out the fruit pulp is optional. Add a bit of fresh ginger or mint to the blender, if you have them on hand, but if not, your agua fresca is more true to the refreshing beverage that accompanies an everyday comida corrida in Mexico.
~ If you use carbonated water, puree the fruit, adding a little bit of plain water if needed to get it moving in the blender. Strain, and add carbonated water.
~ If you are not adept at skinning a pineapple or papaya, here’s how to do it. For a papaya, cut off about 1/ 2″ (13 ml) off the top and bottom. Cut off the top of the pineapple about 1″ (26 ml) below the stalk and 1/2″ off the bottom. Stand fruit on end, and using a sharp serrated knife with a slight sawing motion, slice from top to bottom, removing a thin slice of peel. A serrated bread knife is good for this. Proceed all the way around. The thinnest slice will minimize waste. Cut the papaya in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Cut the pineapple in quarters lengthwise and cut out core.
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