Cantaloupe agua fresca. It’s a simple flavored water that’s refreshing as heck. We think the rest of the world should take a cue from Mexico and have it on every street corner. Or else just make your own.
Agua fresca is Spanish for “fresh water,” and whereas we often take insult when someone gets fresh with us, we welcome any advances when they involve an agua fresca. As author Adam Rapoport explains, Mexico has an astounding selection of sweetened flavored waters sold at street stands and marketplaces made from just about anything, whether citrus or cucumber or, as here melon. In particular, we swoon to this cantaloupe agua fresca recipe as well as the watermelon variation beneath. One sip and we think you’ll understand why. Originally published July 9, 2013.–Renee Schettler Rossi
How To Choose A Ripe Cantaloup
When at the farmers market or grocery store, you’ve got to exert a little effort to find a perfectly ripe specimen. Pick a melon up. It should feel heavy for its size. Give it a sniff. It should emit an intoxicating fragrance. Give it a shake. You shouldn’t hear any sloshing.
Cantaloupe Agua Fresca
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 1 H, 25 M
- Serves 4
- 10 cups chopped cantaloupe (about 3 pounds rindless fruit)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup lightly packed basil leaves, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup cold water
- Ice, for serving
- 1. Working in batches, purée the cantaloupe in a blender until smooth. Pour into a large bowl and let stand for 10 minutes.
- 2. Skim the foam from the surface and then strain the juice through a fine-mesh sieve, preferably lined with cheesecloth, into a pitcher. Stir in the lemon juice, basil, and water. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
- 3. Fill glasses with ice and divvy the agua fresca among them.
Agua Fresca Variation
- Watermelon and Grapefruit
- Substitute 9 cups chopped, seeded watermelon (about 2 1/2 pounds rindless fruit) for the cantaloupe, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice for the lemon juice, and omit the basil and water. Blend, skim, strain, and serve immediately over ice.
Recipe Testers Reviews
This cantaloupe agua fresca is so refreshing. The cantaloupe flavor is so pure it seemed like the equivalent of sticking a straw directly into the melon itself. I couldn’t detect any of the basil flavor, however. Next time I may try to make a basil-infused simple syrup to see if that increases the basil flavor. This agua fresca will be making an appearance at our next summer gathering.
Refreshing! The basil is unexpected and delightful. Perfect for a hot afternoon. We’ll make this cantaloupe agua fresca again.
I have to admit that when I first read the title and ingredients in this cantaloupe agua fresca recipe, I was skeptical. My faith was rewarded with this delicious refreshing summer drink. We used it at a dinner party and it was a big hit with the adults before dinner with cheese and crackers. A note for the other beginners like me…when you have a large bowlful of frothy cantaloupe, don’t give up the faith and don’t panic thinking something is wrong. More than half of the bowl will be the froth that’s skimmed off. Once you skim off the excess, the drink will fit in a normal-size pitcher. I let my basil steep for about 6 hours and it was flavorful but not overwhelming. Finally, in terms of serving, you can drink it without the ice, but it somehow just adds a little something to have it ice-cold rather than refrigerator-cold.
This cantaloupe agua fresca was lovely and refreshing. I doubled the recipe to make a pitcher for a birthday party and it was a huge hit. The color was gorgeous and added to the decoration. I used 4 large pink grapefruits from a CSA that grows its fruit in Northern California near Willows. They were VERY juicy and almost sweet, not sour at all. I also think that a squeeze of lemon, lime, tequila, even gin might’ve been nice here, but in the interest of time, I didn’t experiment. Skimming the foam was a necessary step, though I was afraid I’d hardly have anything left because there was a lot of foam. I probably collected about a cup of foam! I strained the watermelon juice through a strainer without cheesecloth and actually thought the little bits left in the pitcher made the beverage look interesting and homemade. The result wasn’t chunky or pulpy, though, so it wasn’t bothersome to drink. I love that this was straight juice and didn’t have any sweetener added. It makes a refreshing clean drink that you could easily amend, depending on your mood. Yum!
This was a well-written recipe, with most of the ingredients yielding the quoted quantities. My 4 pounds watermelon gave me 9 cups exactly. I used a pink grapefruit called shaddock at home in Nigeria; these are large pomelo-like fruits, and I got 1/2 cup juice from half of the shaddock. I ended up with 4 1/2 cups juice once strained. The addition of the grapefruit juice lifted the flavors a bit, but it tasted a bit flat until I added lime sugar syrup, which I made by heating up a cup each white castor sugar and water with 3 tablespoons lime juice added. I let the syrup cool down and then added it to the watermelon mixture. The lime really lifted the flavors and made a delicious drink, perfect for chilling in the tropical heat. Next time, I’ll only use half the quantity of the syrup, though judging from the kids’ responses, they loved it just as it was, served with lots of ice and lime. Very refreshing.
As I was at my parents’ house for the weekend, I thought it’d be fun to test a recipe for my family. I ended up making this refreshing bevvie, something that “got rid of the garlic taste in [my mom's] mouth.” All 5 testers were pleasantly surprised by the cantaloupe agua fresca, given the simplicity of the recipe, and agreed that it was something they’d bring to a barbecue. The watermelon is certainly dominant, though not overpowering, and the slight grapefruit note provided a nice acidic palate cleanser (and a breath freshener). Not being a huge watermelon fan myself, I still found it refreshing. The addition of a splash of vodka was suggested. I used a 5-pound watermelon wedge, which yielded 4 cups juice, and thus added an extra 3 tablespoons grapefruit juice (ruby red). I used a regular spoon to skim and refrigerated before serving.
A nice, refreshing drink for hot summer days or nights. You have to love grapefruit, though, as the drink tastes a little bitter, which my wife didn’t like that much. I imagine a little booze, like some vodka or Bacardi, would be nice, too…
Refreshing and simple! A lovely drink for a sunny afternoon cooler. I used pink grapefruit due to availability. Two small grapefruit—about the size of a large orange—yielded a little more than 1/2 cup juice. A twist of lime, a splash or two of chilled bubbly white wine, and a garnish of fresh mint in a tall glass…just add friends on a hot afternoon! Paper umbrella optional.
I really loved the cantaloupe agua fresca recipe. I love the lemon and basil in it, which really adds a great fresh, summery taste to the drink.That said, I found it a bit of work to get to the end product. Takes some effort to purée and sieve the melon, and the yield is not that much. While the final product tastes great, it seems like a lot of work for flavored water. I did a batch with cut-up pieces because I was curious if it would taste as good. Milder taste, but way less work. I thought it served maybe 2 to 3 people, not 4. I also totally loved the flavor profile of the watermelon mixed with grapefruit, which is fantastic. I had the same issue with this one as I did with the other fresca. I love cooking but I hate anything I have to sieve. The yield was better with the watermelon, but it’s still a bit of work to get there. I used pink grapefruit, so about 1/2 grapefruit yielded about 1/4 cup juice. The taste is amazing and if you really love flavored waters it’s worth the extra work. That said, I did a batch with cut up watermelon and grapefruit slices to compare. Milder but just as good. I think this serves 3 people comfortably, 4 if you use a lot of ice.