It is hot here in Maryland and I am trying to quench my thirst with something healthy, no calories and with ingredients ready to hand – infused water. Its beneficial hydration in every refreshing sip! If you often work outside like I do in the summer, there is nothing better than to whip up one of these infusions and relax with iced glass in hand. A good way to use left-over herbs and odds and ends from cooking, these additions can add pizzazz to your liquid diet.
Keep It Simple
When I feel the urge, I scout the flower and vegetable beds for something flavorful that I can throw into water to steep for a couple of hours. A variety of candidates will jump out at me, depending on the season. Stevia (the sweet herb substitute), cucumber, fragrant herbs, raspberries, blueberries, and mint are always welcome. Three or four items are usually enough to infuse a delicious flavor to my fresh well water. But something as simple as sliced cucumber and crushed mint leaves will do the trick.
Be sure to wash off any chemical residue and dirt first. I garden organically, and know there is no chemical residue on my produce, but be sure to wash dirt and insect debris off. You don’t want any surprises…… like a Japanese Beetle floating in the mix!
Use cold or room temperature water. Hot water can make things like berries fall apart.
Springing for a fancy infuser pitcher isn’t necessary. Just use a clean glass or food grade plastic container.
Cut up or smash (muddle) berries, squeeze citrus juices and use the leftover rind, tear up herb leaves, and throw in some edible flowers like beautiful blue borage for color.
Infuse the flavors for about 2 hours at room temperature and then place in the frig to stop any unwanted bacterial growth.
Keep the infused water up to 3 days in the refrigerator. I like to remove citrus, such as limes, and lemons within a couple of hours, as they can start tasting bitter. You can strain out any small flowers or pieces of fruit before drinking.
Wash and add your selections to your fresh water and keep it at room temperature for a couple of hours and voila’, you have those expensive flavored waters that you have paid a lot of money for.
One combination that I have tried is raspberries, lemon, stevia, lemon balm, and lemon grass. The citrus notes give the water a refreshing zing and the raspberries stain the water a pale pink, kind of like pink lemonade. The stevia gives a sweet note to the water, but isn’t necessary. My stevia herb which is a natural sugar substitute, is growing like a weed, and I want to use it. The lemon grass is easy to use by ripping off a clump from the main bunch, stripping the leaves off, and slitting the fragrant stem to release those lemony oils.
Are there any benefits of infusing fruits/herbs instead of purchased flavored drinks? Yes!
1) Flavor-Your home-made infused water will taste bright and tangy and full of flavor. I have taste commercially prepared flavored waters, and they can taste watered down and flat. Even infusing water for a scant 15 minutes tastes better than purchased waters.
2) Appearance- Wow-a huge difference from purchased flavored water! You are more likely to eat and drink something that is beautiful and colorful.
3) Calories & Health- No calories are in infused water. But purchased ones can have added artificial and non-artificial flavors and sugars. Staying hydrated is important for your health and what better way than to drink a batch of sugar-free infused water instead of soda all day long?
4) Preparation- Easy and quick to prepare with ingredients on hand and from your garden.
Fruits and Vegetables
apples • blackberries • blueberries • cantaloupe • carrots • celery • cherries • cucumbers • fennel • grapefruit • grapes • honeydew • kiwi • lemons • limes • mangos • nectarines • oranges • peaches • pears • pineapples • plums • raspberries • strawberries • tangerines • watermelon
Herbs, Spices, and Florals
basil • borage • cilantro • cinnamon • cloves • ginger root • lavender • lemon verbena • lemongrass • mint • rosemary • thyme • parsley • rose petals • vanilla bean
Great Combos to Try
Cucumber, Mint, and Raspberry
Orange, Mint, and Blueberry
Watermelon, Mint, and Lemon
Strawberry, Lime, and Cucumber
Raspberry, Vanilla, and Rose Petals
Blueberry, Lavender, and Borage
Kiwi, Cucumber, Honeydew and Honey (Yes, the honey is adding calories here, but hey, I’m a beekeeper!)
Cantaloupe, Mint, Raspberries
Raspberries, Lemon, Lemon Grass, Stevia, Lemon Balm
Lemon, Mint, and Raspberries
Rose Geranium, Stevia, and Mint