Summer winds its way to a close with a flurry of fruit and vegetable gluts to tackle, lest they go to waste. Amongst the courgettes, marrow and tomatoes are cucumbers, one of the tricker vegetables to use en masse. You could pickle them, or make soup, but while we still have a bit of sunlight in the evening (and a few barbecues in us yet), why not turn those cucumbers into a refreshing beverage with a kick?
"Agua Fresca" is Spanish for "fresh water". It describes a near limitless range of blended beverages made by blending water and sugar with any combination of fruits, vegetables, herbs, grains or seeds. The result gets strained through a sieve, served over ice, and there you have it: Agua Fresca, a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage that’s hugely adaptable to all manners of ingredients, from raspberries to rice. They’re popular in Mexico and Central America and here in England I’ve been making these all summer with the cucumber bounty. The combination of cucumber, lime and mint make it ultra crisp and refreshing, especially when made with sparkling water.
Cucumber agua frescas are especially great for parties, especially for those guests who aren’t booze-inclined (and for those who are, a little tequila mixed with one of these wouldn’t go amiss).
Cucumber and mint agua frescas
Makes 3-4 glasses.
1/2 jalapeño chilli (or more to taste)
5 limes, juiced
4 tbsp agave syrup
1 litre water (still or sparkling)
a good handful of mint
a pinch of salt
Blitz all of the ingredients in a blender then strain through a sieve, ideally lined with muslin. Serve over ice with sprigs of mint for garnish.