HOOOOOMYGOSH!!! It is sooo hot and humid in San Antonio. I know I’m only 2 1/2 hours south of where I was living for the past 4 years, but DANG!!! It’s sweltering here! Cucumber Lime Agua Fresca AKA fresh water AKA juice AKA “help-me-survive-this-heat-wave” will get us all through these dog days of summer.
Four Ingredients…and One Element
All you need to make this refreshing Cucumber wonder are three cucumbers (use the Kirby variety since it has a more pronounced flavor). In addition to the cucumbers, you’ll also need a few limes, and a bunch of mint. Not like a “whole lot” of mint, a literal “bunch” of mint. You’ll also need water and granulated sugar to round out this beverage.
What is an Agua Fresca?
Agua fresca literally means “fresh water”. While it’s not just water, these drinks are as refreshing as H2O- especially during the hotter summer months. You’ll find aguas frescas in many Central and South American countries, as well as in Mexico and the Caribbean. If it’s a fruit or refreshing vegetable (not, like, Brussels sprouts), you most likely can make an agua fresca from it.
Prepare the Sweetener
You’ll need to start by preparing a simple syrup, which you’ll use to sweeten your cucumber lime agua fresca. I prefer to make the simple syrup in advance to give it time to cool completely. A mint simple syrup is what we’re going to make in order to give our cucumber lime libation a clean-tasting sweetness.
The great thing about simple syrup is how terribly easy it is to make. Just stir together equal parts granulated sugar and water in a saucepan. The twins like this agua fresca on the semi-sweet side, so I’m using a cup and half of water and a cup and a half of sugar. If you’re not a fan of sweets, just reduce it to a cup of each. Bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat.
Once the liquid begins to boil, remove it from the stove and add a generous handful of fresh mint leaves to the pot. Use spearmint or peppermint leaves, not chocolate mint. That flavor won’t play well with the cucumber and lime. After adding the mint leaves, allow them to steep in the hot syrup until the liquid cools completely. Strain the leaves from the syrup once cool.
Now you can use this simple syrup to sweeten this cucumber lime beverage- or any other beverage, for that matter.
Make the Cucumber Lime Agua Fresca
Since I’m struggling in this heat, I’m not about to make this a complicated recipe.
The only thing you need to do to finish this refresher is juice both your limes and your cukes. Because the limes are easier to prep, I’m starting with them. Cut the limes in half using a chef’s knife, then use a citrus juicer to juice them. You’ll need 2 cups of lime juice for this recipe. I was able to get that much from 6 large limes. You may need more or less, depending on how much juice your limes hold.
Now you need to peel your cucumbers. The skin and seeds of Kirby cucumbers (the most common cucumber sold in stores) are, both, very bitter. Try to get rid of them when you’re using cucumbers in your juice recipes.
After you’ve peeled them, slice the cucumbers in half (lengthwise) and use the tip of a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Then, cut the cucumber halves into chunks and puree them in your blender until smooth.
Gather up the ends of the cloth and twist the bundle to extract as much of the cucumber water as possible. Discard the remaining pulp and seeds.
Stir the Cucumber and Lime Juices Together
The rest of this recipe is easy. Combine the cucumber water, lime juice, and mint simple syrup in a large pitcher and stir them together with a long-handled wooden spoon. Add 4 cups of cold water to the pitcher and give it another stir.
Now all you need to do is serve the juice in tall glasses with lots of ice. You can garnish your glasses with a cucumber slice and sprig of fresh mint, of course. Or, you can say it’s too hot for all that crap and guzzle it as is.
Now a little birdie called Marta told me that if you just so happen to drop an ounce (or two) of gin into this glass, it makes the summer that much more enjoyable. But, you didn’t hear that from me.
Because this is a real juice made with real vegetables and fruits (and their pulp), you’ll find that the pulp will settle at the bottom of your pitcher. Just give it a quick stir before serving.
If you find that your juice is too flavorful (as if that’s really a thing), just add ice to the pitcher to water it down.
And while I dressed mine up with cucumber and lime slices, I don’t recommend leaving these slices in the cucumber lime agua fresca for long periods of time. Remember: cucumber and lime peels are naturally bitter and they’ll impart that bitterness into your juice.
Serve this drink within 72 hours of making it for optimum freshness. Pin it as well, for optimum coolness this summer!
Cucumber Lime Agua Fresca
A crisp and refreshing beverage to get you through the hottest time of the year.
- 1- 1 1/2 cups water (depending on how sweet you like your drink)
- 1- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 bunch (about 1/2 cup) fresh mint leaves
- 3 kirby cucumbers, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1" chunks
- 6 large limes, juiced
- 4 cups cold water
- ice, as needed
- cucumber slices
- lime slices
- fresh mint sprigs
Make the Mint Simple Syrup
In a 3qt saucepan, stir together the water and granulated sugar*. Bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat.
Once the liquid begins to boil, remove it from the stove and add the fresh mint leaves to the pot.
Allow the mint to steep in the hot syrup until the liquid cools completely. Strain the leaves from the syrup once cool.
Store the simple syrup in a glass bottle (or mason jar) in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Use this simple syrup to sweeten this, or any other beverage.
Prepare the Cucumber Lime Agua Fresca
Add the cucumber chunks to your blender and puree them until smooth.
Pour the cucumber pulp into a piece of cheesecloth, or a clean tea towel, set inside a bowl (or a colander set inside of a bowl). Gather up the ends of the cloth and twist the bundle to extract as much of the cucumber water as possible.
Set the cucumber water aside and discard the remaining pulp and seeds.
In a large pitcher stir together the cucumber water, lime juice, and cold water. Stir in a cup of the mint simple syrup and taste for sweetness. Add more simple syrup if desired.
Fill large glasses with ice and pour the cucumber lime agua fresca over to serve.
Garnish each glass with cucumber or lime slices, or fresh sprigs of mint.
Store the mixed juice in the refrigerator.
*If you prefer a less-sweet juice, use 1 cup (each) of water and sugar. For a sweeter juice, use 1 1/2 cups of each.
To make this an adult cocktail, add an ounce (or two) of gin to the glass and stir well to combine. Enjoy responsibly.
If the pulp settles at the bottom of your pitcher, simply give the drink a quick stir before serving.
Add ice to the pitcher to water it down if you find that the juice is too flavorful (as if that's really a thing).
If you choose to garnish your pitcher of juice with cucumber and lime slices, don't leave the slices in the cucumber lime agua fresca for long periods of time as the juice will take on the bitter flavors of the peels.
Serve this drink within 72 hours after making it for optimum freshness.