Have you ever sliced a piece of rhubarb and then stuck it up to your nose? I do. Almost every time. That scent is the epitome of fresh and is one of my favorite smells on planet earth. I wish I could take a fresh sliced stalk and rub it on the undersides of my wrists and behind my ears like good perfume but it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately the height of the scent is about 5-6 seconds after you cut it and then quickly evaporates into thin air.
Gratefully you can capture the flavor and agua fresca is one of my favorite ways to do it. Agua frescas are Mexico’s gift to summer (they know a thing or two hot weather). Agua frescas are lighter than juice but way more intense than flavored water, can be made from just about anything (tamarind, hibiscus flowers, fruit) and are about the most refreshing thing to drink on a sweltering afternoon.
Typically agua frescas require fresh fruit simply blended with water but rhubarb needs to be cooked to release it’s flavor and most importantly it’s carmine color. After it’s cooked however, you just need to strain and let cool. After it has cooled, squeeze the juice of 3 or 4 lemons to balance out the sugar and pour over ice. Add tequila or vodka if you must.
Agua fresca can be made (without the ice) and kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- 1 pound rhubarb, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 6 cups water
- 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- ice, for serving
- Combine rhubarb, sugar, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until rhubarb has broken down and is very soft, about 30 minutes. Cover and set aside until cool.
- Strain into a pitcher, stir in lemon juice, add ice and serve.