Cantaloupe + Blood Orange Agua Fresca

Spring, what a relief! Days slowly creeping longer and longer, color steadily returning to even the brownest Midwest landscape, the fresh air I’m craving in these still-early days of pregnancy bringing me calm, not chills.

As I sail — or maybe bumble is a better word — into the second trimester, my energy has come back a bit, along with the occasional inclination to treat myself. Ordinarily that’d just mean opening some wine or, in summer, finding something to mix with ice-cold gin. But as I’m (mostly) abstaining from all that for now, I needed to find a new thirst-quenching treat as the weather gets warmer.

Though I’d drank (drunk?) my share of aguas frescas over the years, it never occurred to me to make my own until now. I’m so glad it did when it did, because now this September baby is basically getting an IV drip of spring & summer goodness. What I love most about agua fresca is that it’s real fruit, and lends itself best to fruits you can get a) a whole lot of, b) almost anywhere, and c) for not a lot of money. This is no açaí smoothie, no superfood tonic with rarefied antioxidant tinctures. Just a whole bunch of melon (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, whatever), a touch of sugar, a little citrus, and a blender. An inexpensive, crowd-pleasing batch drink that’s enormously refreshing on its own, but doesn’t suffer if spiked with a little somethin-somethin.

Big thanks to the immensely talented Megan Von Schonhoff, who styled these photos and has taught/is teaching me so very much about styling and photography!


The blood orange juice in this version boosts the soft orange of the cantaloupe to new levels of vibrancy, but if you can’t find blood oranges, it’s just as good without it. You may need a touch more lime or lemon juice to get the acidity right, but it’s easy to play around and find what works for your taste.


Cantaloupe + Blood Orange Agua Fresca

Serves about 6

4 cups roughly chopped cantaloupe

Juice of 2 blood oranges

Juice of 2 limes

3 tablespoons sugar

In a blender, combine the cantaloupe, blood orange juice, lime juice, sugar, and 1 cup of water and blend on high until completely smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the fruit mixture over the bowl. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to push liquid past any solids. Pour the agua fresca into a pitcher. Stir in 1/2 to 3/4 cup more water to taste. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. (Alternatively, if you need this and you need it NOW, omit the last addition of water and serve over ice.)

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