AGUA FRESCA: AGUA DE JAMAICA

Flor de Jamaica WEB

flor de jamaica

Aguas frescas—literally, “fresh water” fruit drinks—are very common all over Mexico. They come in many flavors: horchata (made with a rice-base), sandía (watermelon), piña (pineapple), limón (lime), tamarindo (tamarind), naranja (orange), mango and so on. There are a lot of places in Mexico where you can buy aguas frescas out on the street, in the market, as pre-made powder mixes (also sold in the U.S.), etc., and many people make them at home from scratch because it’s so easy. Everytime we visit family in Mexico, nearly every meal made at home is accompanied by some kind of agua fresca. One of our favorite flavors is called jamaica—pronounced HAH-MY-CAH in English.

Jamaica is made like tea, infusing the flavor and purple-red color of hibiscus calyces. Like tea, jamaica is also a natural diuretic so don’t go drinking the whole pitcher in one day. (Yes, I once did that. I don’t think I need to explain what happened.) The only real variation among recipes are the ratios used of sugar to water, and whether or not you dilute the juice (and if so, how much) when serving.

Some households serve their jamaica a bit more tart like cranberry juice; we like ours a little sweeter (but not syrupy-sweet) and I dilute it by adding half a glass of water to half a glass of juice. I use granulated cane sugar because regular processed white sugar is too sweet.

RECETA:

AGUA DE JAMAICA

  • 2 cups (about 2 ounces) dried flor de jamaica (hibiscus flower calyces)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 8 cups water
Jamaica WEB

agua fresca de jamaica

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a non-corrosive pot and add the flowers and the sugar. Stir to wet all the flowers and dissolve the sugar, and allow to boil for 3-5 minutes undisturbed.

Remove from heat, stir, and allow to steep and cool to room temperature for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Using a sieve over a pitcher, pour the liquid (with the flowers still in it) through the sieve to filter the flowers out. The flowers will have plumped up during rehydration. Press them against the sieve with your fingers or a spoon to extract any extra juice left inside.

Refrigerate. Yields about 6 cups of concentrated juice. When serving, cut with 50 percent water to dilute.

  • How do you make your jamaica?
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Comments

  1. Trisha says

    OMG! Just last night over dinner with my friends from Ecuador we discussed whether or not Jamaica was the flor de Hibiscus. THANK YOU! I sent her your link. :)

  2. Jamy says

    They sell flor de jamaica by the scoop out of a barrel at our grocery store and I never knew how to make it so I always buy it ready-made at the deli. This is easy, thanks for posting!

  3. Hey_Prado says

    I just made it for the first time ever a few weekends ago. I was too lazy to make limeade, but I wanted to use the big jaron that we have, it’s so simple, yet so festive with it’s bright red color. I ran out of sugar, so I ended up using raw sugar. So I guess that will be my spin to it.

  4. Maura Hernández says

    Jamy, I’d love to see a photo of the jamaica flowers in your grocery store. The only place I’ve ever seen them in a barrel like you’re describing is in the open-air markets in Mexico City.

    Prado, the raw sugar is a very similar taste to the cane sugar. When I come over in a few weeks I’ll bring some cane sugar to show you the difference in taste and color compared to raw sugar.

  5. Arthur Nicholls says

    Agua de Jamaica is one of my favorite drinks. I learned to make it in Nicaragua. Try adding large slices of fresh ginger to the boiling water. It really helps add another dimension (bite) to the sweet and floral. Oh and if you’re feeling adventurous add some Flor de Caña and a dash of sparkling water.

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