Infused waters have been used in spas for ages and are the hype of the moment - it's not for nothing. Plus it is officially summer in the UAE and the rest of Arabia, so what a better way of combating the heat.
For my daughter's second birthday party, we had a small garden affair for which I made a dispenserful of infused water with lemon, cucumber and basil. It was lovely to start with but by the time the guests arrived, it was too bitter. So since then I have done a little research and have been trying different recipes, and I must say I have got quite addicted to the thing, and so are the kids (plus it stops them from asking for juice multiple times a day!).
We all know the goodness that comes with drinking our 2 litres (or more!) of water each day: hydration, detoxification and increased energy. Some argue it also helps slimming but that is not my field of expertise, so I won't go there. But drinking such a large quantity of something that is so plain needs some motivation, and I have found that the infused waters have that extra oomph that makes it happen with the ever so delicate flavours that its ingredients give it. Plus it is a fab way to get those nutrients of the fruits and herbs while you hydrate yourself. For me it also helps reduce my coffee intake (yes, I am bit of a coffee-holic) and I am less inclined to pour myself that glass of vino come 5 o'clock.
After trying quite a few recipes over the past four months, here are my top five that my little munchkins like as well:
- Citrus: throw in orange, lime, lemon, and mandarin if in season. Super zesty and refreshing, and loaded with vitamin C. Best if you can get organic or unwaxed citrus.
- Berries and basil: the antioxidant water. Try strawberries, blueberries and basil. If you like raspberries and blackberries, add those too. After some infusing, you will notice how the the water turns a lovely blush colour.
- Pear and ginger: it makes a delicious mix with the sweetness of the pear and the zing of the ginger.
- Cucumber, kiwi and mint: also called spa water because of the cucumber, that can be used in endless combinations.
- Watermelon and rosemary: super refreshing, so perfect for the summer! The watermelon should be peeled of its rind. If you feel creative, scoop the watermelon into balls for an extra pretty water.
These are my personal favourites, but you can experiment with the ingredients you like best and try different combinations to find your personal and your little people’s favourites. You just need to bear the below in mind:
- Always use a glass container for best purity of flavour. You can use a dispenser so that you can make enough litres for the whole family, a glass pitcher, a mason jar, or if you are on the go, just re-use a bottle of Voss water or fill up a Life Factory bottle (available at The Change Initiative, and Organic Foods & Café in Dubai, or online at desertcart, mumzworld and Dbbabies)
- I find a good ratio for a delicate yet interesting enough flavour, is 1 cup of fruit and 1-2 springs of herbs for every 2 litres of water. If you prefer a more intense flavour, simply add more to suit your taste. Once in the glass container, do press the fruit gently with a muddler or a wooden spoon to release the oils and juices.
- Cut hard fruits into thin slices to get the most flavour. Soft fruits can be cut either way (thin or thick, chunks, halved, quartered, etc) as they tend to release the flavour much faster.
- Leafy herbs (basil, mint, etc): tear or crush for the oils to be released
- Fibrous herbs and roots (ginger, rosemary, lemongrass): crush with a muddler or a wooden spoon for the juices and oils to be released
- If you use loose herbs or flowers (lavender, rose petals, etc): put them in a cheesecloth or a tea infuser so that they don't end up floating all over the drink
- Infuse the fruit, veggies and herbs between 30 minutes and 2 hours at room temperature for best flavour, but afterwards do keep them in the fridge to avoid bacterial growth
- When infusing citrus with the rind on, remove the fruit after 4 hours to avoid the water turning bitter. If you are planning to refill, replace with new fruit.
- The ingredients that flavour the water fastest and so need least infusion time, are citrus, pear, watermelon, cucumber, melon and mint.
- The ingredients that need the most infusion time (overnight) are the hardest: rosemary, apples, cinnamon and ginger.
- You will notice that the some fruits will become waterlogged and will start to break down quite fast (normally soft fruits). So you can either replace with fresh bits of fruit or remove altogether.
- If you are not drinking the infused water within 24 hours, remove the fruits and keep refrigerated, consuming it within 3 days.
So there you go! There's my dissertation on infused waters. Now off you go, experiment and be creative! I would love to hear which ones are your 'mostest favourites'.