On my summer crusade for a new agua fresca each week [or so], I looked for a grapefruit agua fresca. And I looked. And I could not find one. The combination that keeps coming up is Watermelon Grapefruit Agua Fresca. This recipe is distinguished in that you do not have water as an ingredient: all the basic liquid comes from the watermelon. You get a flavor intensity and viscosity that really can only come from creating a fine puree and then filtering out the “bigger” stuff. And, you get this color, this dramatic vampire-red color.
What about the grapefruit? Why not just add grapefruit juice to water? I think it would be too temperamental. Of all the citrus juices, grapefruit is the most variable. It can be sweet, it can be bitter. You just never know what to expect. By using the watermelon juice, you have a very stable base, one that provides natural sweetness. Now the grapefruit juice is merely an amendment, one that renders the final beverage less sensitive to the particular features of your current grapefruit.
I tasted this without adding sugar, and then I added sugar. The difference was an intensification of flavor that I believe is both delicious and necessary. Follow my lead and make the core beverage, then sweeten to satisfy your palate.
The taste here is substantial and very refreshing. The liquid can certainly be the base for cocktail experiments. Some vodka, a little rum, and you’ll be recognized as an up-and-coming mixologist.
Watermelon Grapefruit Agua Fresca
Yield: 1 pitcher full Ingredients:
- 1 ripe watermelon, 10 pounds
- 1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- ½ cup sugar
Get the meat out of the watermelon. Cut the watermelon in half, cut the halves in half, then halve the quarters. Using a sharp knife carefully glide along the skin of the watermelon and liberate the meat. Cut the meat into modest chucks and put into your blender. You’ll have enough for two or three rounds of pureeing. Process each batch for a least one minute. Then pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Press the contents of the sieve with a spatula to extract much of the juice.
For a 10 pound watermelon, you will have a cup or more of residue in the sieve that goes into the sink, not the pitcher. If you love “texture” then pulp away and put it in the pitcher, but agua frescas achieve part of their refreshment value from the sheer smoothness of the liquid.
Add the grapefruit juice, stir to mix, and taste test. Add sugar as needed or preferred. The surface of the liquid will have some scum on it. Use a slotted spoon to remove as much as you can — some bubbles will keep forming as you can see in the picture. Pour the mixture into a pitcher and chill.
Sources: Brian O’Rourke
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/100th second at ISO-3200