No problem staying hydrated when water looks and tastes like a summertime treat. Here’s what to know when you fancy up your H2O.
The Super Soak
Infusing water with the essence of fruits, herbs, and other botanicals helps you drink plenty of liquids without the downside of excess calories, sugars, and artificial flavorings. It’s nutrition and hydration combined in every refreshing sip.
But before you get started, there are a few essentials you should know to make sure that drink of infused water is as good—and good for you—as it can be.
Choose organic when you can. Wash produce and rinse herbs to remove chemicals, pesticides, and other residues.
Use cold or room temperature filtered water. Hot water makes produce fall apart faster and can compromise the nutrients you’re trying to coax out of the ingredients.
Glass, plain and simple. You can splash out for purpose-built infusing pitchers and bottles, but you don’t have to. Spend on fresh produce instead.
- Softer fruits like citrus and strawberries can be sliced thick, thin, halved, or quartered. Harder fruits like apples should be sliced very thinly because they take longer to release flavors.
- Crush fibrous ginger root, rosemary, and lemongrass with a muddler or wooden spoon; tear or crush leafy herbs like mint, basil, and cilantro to release their oils.
- Loose herbs and flowers—lavender, rose petals, dried hibiscus—can be corralled in a tea infuser or cheesecloth.
Soak Time and Temperature
- Infuse water at room temperature for no more than 2 hours. After that, put it in the fridge to prevent bacterial growth.
- Cucumbers, citrus fruits, melons, and mint flavor water almost immediately. Apples, cinnamon, fresh ginger root, and rosemary need an overnight soak in the fridge.
- Melons and sliced strawberries start looking waterlogged after a few hours; citrus, and whole berries look pretty good even after hours in the fridge.
- After 4 hours, unpeeled citrus can make water taste bitter. To make a big jug of infused water for a party, peel the citrus before soaking. Or you can soak it unpeeled for 4 hours, remove it, and add fresh slices for looks. (And keep that water icy cold for food safety.)
- If you don’t drink the water within 24 hours, strain out the solids and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- To keep sipping all day long, refill your infused water container when it’s half full. It will be weaker than your first drink, but still flavorful.
What to Throw in Your H2O
Fruits and Vegetables
apples • beets • bell peppers • blackberries • blueberries • cantaloupe • carrots • celery • cherries • cucumbers • fennel • grapefruit • grapes • honeydew • jalapenos • kiwi • lemons • limes • mangos • nectarines • oranges • peaches • pears • pineapples • plums • raspberries • strawberries • tangerines • watermelon
Herbs, Spices, and Florals
basil • cardamom • cilantro • cinnamon • cloves • ginger root • lavender • lemon verbena • lemongrass • mint • rosemary • thyme • parsley • rose petals • star anise • vanilla bean
Keep it simple. Think of flavor combos you like in other recipes and build from there. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Cucumber + lime + strawberry + mint
- Lemon + raspberry + rosemary
- Orange + blueberry + basil
- Lime + ginger root + basil
- Watermelon + honeydew + mint
- Cucumber + mint + jalapeno
- Lemon + thyme
- Orange + hibiscus + star anise
- Orange + cinnamon + cardamom + cloves
- Pear + fennel