Aguas frescas are non-alcoholic drinks made with fruits, flowers, cereals and seeds. They are popular in many cultures, easy to make, and refreshing.
In the highlands of central Mexico, 20 degrees north of the equator, all types of flower and fruit can be grown in a relatively small space. In ‘our’ backyard, there are bananas, apples, pears, pomegranates, mangos and several different types of citrus fruits.
Besides the mild year round temps (comparable to Hawaii & Jamaica), the highlands of Jalisco boast some of Mexico’s richest soils. Los Altos, as they are locally known, receives torrents of rain during the monsoon season (June through October). The mineral rich land of Los Altos is a deep red color, and produces hectares and hectares of food. In fact, Jalisco is the leading producer of maize, beans, and livestock in all of Mexico. Here, if you plant it, even if you don’t have a green thumb, it will grow.
With all these colorful flowers and mouth watering fruits, deciding
which refreshing drink to make is no small task.
We decided to have agua de limon (real) & Jamaica. This translates to lemonade and a sweetened hibiscus cooler. Fortunately, up in the more northern latitudes, lemons are available year round, and dried hibiscus flowers can be found in many grocery stores or Mexican markets.
Lemonade (AGUA de LIMON REAL) Ingredients:
4-5 cups water
1 cup sugar (sweeter=more sugar)
1 cup fresh lemon juice (tangy=more lemons)
Ice (less water if using ice)
Extract the juice from 4 to 8 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.
Add the juice and 4-5 cups of water to a pitcher. Add sugar 1/2 cup first, then 1/4 cup at a time. Stir until dissolved. If the lemonade is a little too sweet for your taste, add more lemon juice to it. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes or add ice. Serve!
Hibiscus Cooler (AGUA de JAMAICA) Ingredients:
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
2 – 2 1/2 quarts of water
1 cup sugar or alternative sweetener* (sweeter=more sugar)
Bring to a boil 1 quart of water. In a stainless steel bowl, pour the boiling water over the hibiscus flowers. Cover and let steep for 1 hour. Pour mixture through strainer or colander into a pitcher. Add remaining water and sugar, stir until sweetener dissolves. If you prefer a sweeter beverage, add more sugar. Refrigerate or add ice and serve!
* Instead of sugar, I often use a dropper full of liquid stevia, and then add maple syrup to taste for a richer sweetened flavor.