Aguas frescas are a staple in most Mexican and Mexican-American homes, mine included. The best aguas frescas are made with ingredients that are in season because they’re easiest to get, typically cost less because they are more abundant, and have the best flavor because they’re at their peak growing season. Honeydew melon—also known as melón verde—is in season typically from May to October, with the peak from May to August, but we’ve been seeing a lot of this melon in the grocery stores in Southern California since mid-March. This honeydew and cucumber agua fresca recipe is light and refreshing for warm spring and summer days. You can also opt to serve it straight as a juice with breakfast—just run through a juicer or powerful blender and leave out the water and optional sugar.
Choose a melon that ‘s firm, but not hard. It should have a fruity, floral scent when ripe, and the heavier a melon is, the juicier it will be. The rind should be slightly waxy and yellowish-white, with no bruising or punctures. Avoid melons that have very white rinds. Slight brown freckling on the melon is an indication of its sugar content, not necessarily that there’s anything wrong with the melon. The more brown freckling it has, the sweeter it will be. You can also knock gently on the melon; a deeper sound means the melon is ripe. Ripen melons at room temperature. Cut honeydew melon can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days.
A sweeter, riper melon may not need any added sugar to this agua fresca recipe, which is why I recommend waiting until the very end to decide whether you want to add sugar or not.
How to choose a cucumber for juicing
I prefer English cucumbers, sometimes sold as a “seedless” variety, due to their uniform long shape and lack of seeds in comparison to a regular cucumber. They’re also slightly sweeter and have a crisp texture. They should be firm with no soft or yellow spots. Their skin is edible; it’s not waxed like the regular cucumber, and therefore is not bitter, but this recipe calls for peeling the cucumber regardless. They may also be called hothouse cucumbers. They’re typically sold wrapped individually in plastic, and typically last in the refrigerator for about a week. This kind of cucumber is generally available in the U.S. year-round.