By Ryan McKay
With the summer heat now in full swing and shadows being sought to shelter in place to avoid melting, I often see people reaching toward their glasses to help them cool down. With that in mind, I was inspired to offer an inexpensive but refreshing beverage that takes advantage of the summer fruit season. So, I would like to proudly present a watermelon-championed elixir of Latin inspiration—Agua Fresca de Sandia.
Agua Fresca, otherwise known as fresh water in Spanish, is a combination of fruit and water just so slightly sweetened and chilled with ice. This is a traditional version using a very popular combination of watermelon and lime, but there are many variations to play with. (On a side note, Horchata could be considered a Agua Fresca, another delicious offering.) Any seasonal fruit will do, but this is a great one to start with as we hide from the sun.
A few after fire critiques: Watermelon-lime is one of my favorites, but consider using any mix of berries or citrus together. To build on this flavor combination, next time you slice up a watermelon, rub a lime all over it and top with a sprinkle of salt, you’re welcome. Lastly, depending on your desired level of sweetness, scale back or add more to get to that level, and trust your taste buds.
Watermelon (5 Cups, scooped)
Lime Juice (¼ Cup or about 2 limes)
Sugar (¼ Cup)
Mint (¼ Cup, fresh leaves, packed)
Lime (thinly sliced)
Mint Sprigs (for garnish)
Fine Mesh Sieve
Using the blunt end of a chef’s knife, gently bruise the mint leaves. Combine mint leaves, sugar, and ¼ cup water in a small pot. Over medium-high heat, stir until it boils and sugar has dissolved. Let it cool to room temperature—about 30 minutes.
Strain syrup into the blender ensuring to discard mint leaves. Add watermelon and lime juice and blend until very smooth. Using a fine-mesh sieve and spoon, strain into a pitcher or large thermos and discard solids. Add two cups water, and stir well to combine. Serve with mint sprigs and lime slices, indulge!
Ryan McKay is a 13-year fire service veteran and a firehouse cook from Atlanta, Georgia. His goal is to bring the fast-paced lifestyle of the fire service with the slow-paced art of cultivating family and crew through the tool that is food. He has made an appearance on NBC’s primetime show “Food Fighters,” is a co-founder of the Metro Atlanta EMS Conference, and works intimately with the SafePath Child Advocacy Center.