Forget super-sweet lemonades and sports drinks this summer, and think water – flavored water. Water that has been naturally infused with herbs, fruit or vegetables is a small luxury that is super easy to make, has gorgeous flavor and is oh-so-refreshing.
Plus side: It helps everyone drink more water without all the extra sugar and calories of soda! And when these waters are presented in a vintage Mason jar or beautifully colored glass bottle, it makes a charming addition to any table.
These recipes are anything but watered down. But before you start, you’ll need a few things, including gallon glass jars with lids or a heavy pitcher, a muddler (or long-handled wooden spoon, for crushing and stirring), water and a refrigerator.
Any mix of ingredients will work, but you may want to opt for what fruits and vegetables are in season.
For fruits - try combining sweet fruits with a bit of acid (orange and cantaloupe, or strawberries and pineapple). For herbs - think a few sprigs of fresh basil, mint rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme or lavender. For vegetables - opt for peppers, fresh ginger, and cucumber. If you're looking for a bit more "wow" factor, serve the infused water in a pretty colored bottle.
Here are 5 of our favorite flavored water recipes that help us drink more water:
Blackberry-Lime Water (serves 6)
3 cups fresh blackberries
2 large limes
Quarter the two limes. Squeeze (with your hands) the juice into the jar or pitcher, and add limes. Add berries. Use muddler or long-handled wooden spoon to release some of the juice (but don't pulverize the fruit - just crush lightly). Add water and ice. Stir again with wooden spoon. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours prior to serving. Serve in tall glasses filled with ice.
Blood Orange-Fennel Water (serves 6)
2 large blood oranges (thinly sliced)
Stalks and fronds (coarsely chopped) of 1 large bulb of fennel
Add 1 of the sliced blood oranges and ½ of the fennel stalks and fronds into a large pitcher or jar with 1.5 quarts of seltzer water. Refrigerate for up to 4 hours to let ingredients infuse the water. Stir the water well, the strain and discard the oranges and fennel. Before you serve, add the second (freshly sliced) blood orange and some of the remaining fennel, and serve with plenty of ice.
Meyer Lemon-Cucumber Water (serves 6)
2 large Meyer Lemons (thinly sliced)
2 medium-sized English cucumbers (thinly sliced)
Add 1 of the sliced lemons and 1 of the sliced cucumbers into a large pitcher or jar with 1.5 quarts of seltzer water. Refrigerate for up to 4 hours to let ingredients infuse the water. Stir the water well, the strain and discard the lemon and cucumber slices. Before you serve, add the second freshly sliced lemon and sliced cucumber, and plenty of ice, and serve.
Berry-Basil Water (serves 6)
1 cup fresh raspberries, lightly crushed
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, lightly bruised to release flavor
Add fruit and basil to a large pitcher or jar, fill with half-gallon of water, and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours prior to serving. Serve in tall glasses filled with ice.
Lemon-Herbed Ginger Water (serves 6)
4 fresh lemons, thinly slices and lightly muddled
1.5 inch long chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into rounds or spears
1/8 cup fresh lemongrass or lemon basil (optional)
Add ingredients to a large pitcher or jar, fill with half-gallon of water, stir and refrigerate for at least 3 hours prior to serving. Serve in tall glasses filled with ice.
Making flavored water is an easy foodie project for parents and kids to enjoy together. One gentle note of caution: You may decide that the fruit is too tasty to let stay in the jugs for long. (Our grand-daughter helped us with creating some citrus waters a while ago - and toward the end of the day, she decided that the fruit was too tempting to ignore!)
Three More Healthy Tips:
- Try to make your waters the same day you serve them, as some can become bitter or cloudy if left in the refrigerator for too long.
- Going on a picnic? Pour your waters into pint-sized mason jars, tighten up the lid and you're good to go! They'll be easy to pack and easy to travel with. And the jar can double as a drinking glass: All you have to do is open up the mason jar and enjoy!
- Always make sure you use fresh herbs that smell fragrant, and fresh fruit and vegetables that are fully ripe. And use a light hand on strongly-flavored herbs and spices, such as rosemary or ginger. A little can go a long way!