This refreshing Melon Agua Fresca is just what you need to beat the heat! Easily made with a base of cantelope, it’s a bright and non-alcoholic drink to carry you through the end of summer.
What is agua fresca?
Literally translated as “fresh water,” agua fresca is a type of non-alcoholic beverage made from blended fruit, sugar, and water. Flowers, cereals, or seeds can also be added, depending on the regional variation. It has been called “the favorite drink of Mexico City.”
Believed to have originated with the Aztecs (Mexicas), the first aguas frescas were created from fruits gathered along river journeys through Tenochtitlán (modern day Mexico city). These people added ice from the nearby (but dormant) volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. As their popularity increased, aguas frescas became popular street fare across Guatemala and Mexico. Michoacán, a state known for its sugarcane production, really increased their appeal.
It’s worth noting that this is not my heritage nor ancestry, so I am researching these topics to provide you with my own variations. For a more in-depth resource, please feel free to read more on New Mexico Magazine.
The Most Popular Variations
If you’ve seen agua fresca at a restaurant, it’s possible they were serving horchata or jamaica. Horchata has a rice base and is blended with cinnamon. Jamaica is made by boiling hibiscus flowers and then adding sugar and water. Both are served chilled and are very refreshing.
Ingredients Needed for Melon Agua Fresca
- One cup chopped cantelope
- 1 cup cold water
- Juice of 1/2 of a large lime (or one small lime)
- 1 tsp maple syrup
Unlike juice, agua fresca is more like a smoothie since we are not filtering out the fruit pulp. This means we retain all that healthy fiber and reduce food waste!
Tips for Choosing a Good Cantelope
- The best way to begin choosing a cantelope is by smelling it. The stem end should smell lightly sweet (but not overpowering).
- Feel the melon for any soft spots. If there are a couple, it is ready to go. It should be relatively firm with a slight amount of give. You do not want a melon that is too hard. Additionally, similar to watermelon, it should feel heavy for its size.
- If the stem is still attached, it was likely cut from the vine too soon. Avoid these.
- Finally, for a ripe melon you want a skin color that is fully beige, with no green spots coming through.
How long does agua de melon keep in the fridge?
This recipe will keep in the fridge for up to three days. It will likely separate a bit as it chills, so give it a good stir before pouring. As mentioned above, the texture is naturally pretty thick.
Ways to Customize This Recipe
Here are some other flavors that you can substitute for melon in this recipe:
- Seedless watermelon (obvious, but fun)
- Cucumber and mint
I do not recommend any fruit that have small seeds (such as grapes or blueberries).
For more of a slushie, try blending in ice in place of some of the water.