There hasn't been a whole lot of cooking in The Delicious kitchen lately...
The usual explanations could apply
Too hot to turn on the stove.
Too distracted by the summer outside.
Too much watermelon in the refrigerator because you're only a family of three, two of whom are a chihuahua and a pomeranian who eat nothing but Brie cheese and birthday cakes.
(Don't ask. That's how we found them.)
It was a mistake to put watermelon in the #1 spot on 31 Things to Eat and Drink Before Summer Fades. While it is probably the most representative food of summer and thus seems logically ranked as first, a massive 16-pound melon at the top of a list for someone who is selectively OCD is an obstacle, effectively a fruity roadblock to checking your way down the rest of the list.
Blackberry cobbler for dessert? Not until we finish that three-quarters of a watermelon.
Tomatoes for a caprese salad? We should make a Watermelon Feta Salad.
Clambake this weekend? Can we throw some cut watermelon into that pot?
Whoa whoa whoa. Now that's just not fair. Even if I paid $1 billion out of my own retirement fund for a 40-acre watermelon farm, I'd never opt out of a glass of rosé spritzed with soda.
But at the same time, watermelon juice and sparkling water with a splash of ginger and lime is not a bad "you have to finish this first," especially in this heat wave that has suddenly! surprisingly! suffocated southern California like I've forgotten that we have one every year. Even more especially if you spike it with the more availabler of either vodka or gin.
The sparkling water in the background is Ferrarelle, an Italian brand of sparkling mineral water, which I discovered on my own at Terroni a few months ago, and then tried at home (thank you Denise!). I have never tasted two different sparkling waters side-by-side, let alone an entire line-up, and I certainly don't have a refined enough palate to legitimately review sparkling waters, so let me just illegitimately say that I find Ferrarelle slightly more refreshing than other sparkling waters I've tried.
Who knows why Ferrarelle tastes more refreshing. Maybe there are more minerals. Maybe it has finer/coarser/less/more effervescence. Maybe my refrigerator was set to a lower temperature that day. Maybe I'm biased because the two bottles that were sent to my house also came with a corkscrew and that just takes us back to...
Add some watermelon juice...
Ingredients Notes and Resources
Watermelon. Wait until you see watermelons at the local farmers' markets before you buy them anywhere. That's when you will know watermelons are ready, usually late June or early July. If you see watermelons in the regular grocery store say, in May, you can TRY them, but they will be any combination of grainy or dry or bland or cracked or totally tasteless. Probably all of the above.
Farmers Market. I like the different colored watermelons — red, pink, orange, yellow — from Weiser Farms.
Water. You can make this Watermelon Agua Fresca with sparkling water to make it a little extra. If you don't finish it all in the same day, just save it in the refrigerator with an airtight lid. It may or may not retain its "sparkle" the next day. Even if it doesn't, it'll still taste like the original Watermelon Agua Fresca.
Sweetener. Some people add sugar or simple syrup to Watermelon (and other) Agua Fresca. If you'd like a sweeter drink, add some sugar. I generally avoid adding sweetener in any form — agave syrup, honey, maple syrup, straight up sugar — that's just my taste preference.
Really? Am I typing out a "recipe" for mixing fresh watermelon juice with sparkling water and adding a splash of lime juice and /or ginger juice? Really?!
Agua Fresca Variations
Agua Fresca with Different Fruit
You can make an Agua Fresca out of essentially ANY fruit with a high water content, including but not limited to cantalouope
When fruit for your agua fresca is at peak season and comes from as local a farm as possible, there is very little you need to add to it, maybe not even sugar. However, you can enhance the fresca experience by adding flavors that bring out different characteristics of the fruit. These may or may not be traditional, they are just flavors I like to add if they fit the vibe of the occasion:
- fresh ginger, a 1-inch piece will add some subtle heat
- basil, mint, lavender or other herb
- fresh serrano or jalapeno pepper, 1 whole pepper without the seeds will REALLY take the heat up several notches
I have tried making this Watermelon Agua Fresca with leaves of fresh mint added to the food processor with the watermelon, but the combination just doesn't do it for me. I don't really love the flavor of mint to begin with in anything but toothpaste and chewing gum, and I can't help but always feel like I have little neon green bits of mint between my teeth after drinking it.
I just used the mint as a garnish. For photos.
Alcohol, Spirits, Making Agua Fresca into Cocktails
By the way, Agua Fresca is the perfect mixer for ice cold vodka. Just leave out the water lol.
Sparkling Watermelon Agua Fresca Recipe
- 1 watermelon
- ice cold filtered or sparkling mineral water
- 1 tablespoon lime juice per cup of pureed watermelon
- lime wedges and mint sprigs for garnish
- Wash whole watermelon and cut watermelon in half. Use a large spoon to scoop out all of the pink part of the watermelon into a bowl. Discard or save watermelon rind for other use (pickled watermelon!).
- Puree watermelon in blender. Measure how many cups of watermelon puree you have. A 5-pound watermelon will yield approximately 8 cups of watermelon puree.
- For each cup of watermelon puree, add ¼ cup of water and 1 tablespoon of lime juice. For example, for 8 cups of watermelon puree, add 2 cups of water and ½ cup lime juice.
- Stir everything together in a large pitcher. Taste. If you'd like, stir in sweetener, though if you're getting good watermelons, you probably don't need any sweetener.
- Watermelon Agua Fresca is ready to drink, but Watermelon Agua Fresca is even better once it's chilled in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Stir again right before serving (watermelon pulp might settle toward the bottom).
- Pour Watermelon Agua Fresca into glasses, over ice if necessary. Garnish with lime wedges and/or mint sprigs.
- Watermelon Agua Fresca will keep in the refrigerator for about two days.