Naturally Flavored Water
An easy formula for making your own quick, healthy fruit and herb infused waters in endless varieties.
Say goodbye to soda, juice, and bottled water with these refreshing, healthy flavors! I'm keeping 2-3 flavors of this "spa water" in my fridge now, so I have a variety to motivate me to drink more water.
I was a hardcore Dr. Pepper girl for years. Then I gave up regular soda because of the high sugar content and switched to diet soda. Next we were warned to avoid the chemicals in diet soda; and more recently studies have indicated that diet soda actually causes rather than prevents weight gain (source). Geez. Lots of us moved on to bottled water, but that has landfill and environmental consequences and can be less healthy than regular tap water (source). Juice has more nutrition than soda, but is comparable in sugar, carb, and calorie content (source). Dang. It's hard to keep up.
Simply water At the end of the day, regular old tap water--or at least a filtered version of it--seems to be the way to go. I'm fortunate that St. Louis is considered to have some of the best tasting tap water in the U.S. I still prefer the taste of it filtered through a Brita Water Filter Pitcher--we've been using one for years. But, I still don't drink enough water.
Aside from my morning coffee, I honestly forget to drink fluids throughout the day. I know that it's important for my health. I don't dislike water, but I do get kind of bored with it. That was the motivation for starting to make flavored waters.
Subtle flavor without sweetness
These aren't sweet waters, so they'll be disappointing if that's what you're expecting. This is water with subtle flavors infused into it. Water with a little something extra. A touch of flavor--not an explosion of flavor--with little or no sweetness. You've probably had pitchers of ice water with lemon served at restaurants. This is the same idea, but with more variety. Many spas serve fancy waters like these, and it turns out that they couldn't be simpler to make. And, they are oh-so-refreshing.
The KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach to Flavored Waters
My natural tendency is to go overboard and overcomplicate things, so I really have to fight that when I'm developing recipes. I read about and was tempted to try all kinds of methods for flavoring water that involve blenders, boiling, specialty infuser pitchers, and lots of different ingredients. But, I know myself. If I truly want to transition completely away from soda & juice and drink more water throughout the day, I have to make this simple so it can be an easy routine for me to maintain. When I read celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's quick and uncomplicated approach to making flavored waters, I was inspired to follow his lead and keep it simple. My easy formula for making KISS flavored waters is to use only fruit and herbs, water, ice, and a jar or pitcher. This is something I can make in a minute or two so I can always have flavored waters on hand in my fridge.
How to make
Naturally Flavored Water
- fruit -- whatever kind you like (except no bananas); make sure it's good and ripe for maximum sweetness and flavor. I like to use all kinds of citrus and berries. I also found pineapple and watermelon to work well for flavoring water. If you don't want to buy whole ones, many grocery stores sell small containers of pre-cut fruit.
- herbs -- these are optional, but many herbs are a surprising complement to fruit flavors; almost any herb will work depending on your personal preference
- jars or pitchers -- I use 2 quart mason jars primarily, but any 2 quart pitcher will do.
(click here to view 2 quart mason jars on Amazon)
fruit infusion pitcher--I recently purchased one of these--it's another option if you think you'll be making infused waters regulary; a very easy, tidy way to strain fruit from water
(click here to view fruit infusion pitcher on Amazon)
- muddler or wooden spoon for mashing fruit and herbs
(click here to view muddler on Amazon)
- water -- I use filtered water, but regular tap water is fine if yours tastes good to you
(click here to view Brita Water Filter Pitcher on Amazon)
Fresh vs. frozen fruit. When in season, I prefer to use fresh fruit. However, when fruit is out of season, the fresh version can be tart or flavorless. Because fruit that is to be frozen is picked at the peak of ripeness, it is often the better option for the best flavor, sweetness, and nutrients. I find this to especially to be the case with berries and peaches.
A variety of fresh herbs. Use whatever herbs you like or happen to have on hand. I picked all of these from my herb garden and have tried them in flavored waters. It's surprising how well they blend with most fruit flavors, and they amp up the refreshing factor of the water. Mint is the most obvious herb choice. I also have tried basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, and tarragon. All good.
I'll share some of the fruit and herb combos that I've recently tried for flavoring water. But, honestly, you can combine most fruits and herbs according to your favorite flavors and what you have on hand in your fridge. I'll show you how to make 5 flavor combos. You can take it from there, creating endless flavor combos of your own.
Quantities: The quantities in my flavored water recipes are all for 2 quart jars or pitchers. However, I ran out of the 2 quart jars and used a few 1 quart jars, halving the recipe ingredients. So, don't be confused by the different jar sizes. It's easy to make a full or half batch depending on your jar or pitcher size.
The first 2 waters are
flavored with fruit only (no herbs)
WASH FRUIT THOROUGHLY! The citrus and berries need to be really, really clean to keep contaminants and bacteria out of your flavored water. I recommend organic fruit, if it isn't going to be peeled.
1. All Citrus Flavored Water (adds refreshing tartness to water) -- slice 1 orange, 1 lime, 1 lemon into rounds, then cut the rounds in half. Add to jar, press and twist with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon. Press enough to release some of the juices, but don't pulverize the fruit into pieces. Fill the jar with ice. Pour in water to the top. Stir it with the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick. Put a lid on it, put it in the fridge, and chill.
- click here to view plastic lids for mason jars on Amazon -- these are long-lasting and easier to screw on and off than the metal rings and lids that come with the jars; they fit all wide-mouth mason jars
You can drink it right away, but the flavor intensifies if it's made an hour or two ahead. It's even better the next day. 24 hours later straight from the fridge, the ice still hasn't melted completely in mine. The ice at the top serves as a sieve so that you can pour the flavored water without getting fruit bits in your glass.
2. Raspberry Lime Flavored Water (beautiful color and mildly tart) -- Quarter 2 limes; with your hands, squeeze the juice into the jar, then throw in the squeezed lime quarters. Add raspberries. Press and twist with a muddler to release some of the juices (don't pulverize the fruit). Fill the jar with ice, then add water to the top. Stir, cover, and refrigerate.
The next 3 waters are
flavored with fruit and herb combos
3. Pineapple Mint Flavored Water (a hint of minty sweetness). Add a sprig of mint to the jar--you can throw in the whole sprig; or, remove the leaves from the sprig, if you prefer to have the mint swimming around and distributing in the jar. Muddle the mint--the goal is to bruise the leaves and release their flavor--don't pulverize them into bits. Add pineapple pieces, press and twist with the muddler to release juices. Add ice to the top and then water. Stir, cover, and refrigerate.
4. Blackberry Sage Flavored Water (subtle, refreshing flavor). Add sage leaves to jar and bruise with a muddler. Add blackberries; press and twist with muddler to release their juices. Fill jar with ice cubes, add water to the top, stir, cover and refrigerate.
5. Watermelon Rosemary Flavored Water (lovely flavor combo). Add a sprig of rosemary to jar and muddle gently (rosemary releases a strong flavor without much muddling). Add watermelon cubes; twist and press gently to release juices. Fill jar with ice cubes, add water to the top, stir, cover and refrigerate.
Here's the whole gang. It's hard to pick a favorite, because they all have a different, distinctive flavor. The all citrus and raspberry lime are both quite tart (and refreshing!), the watermelon rosemary and pineapple mint are the sweetest, and the blackberry sage has the mildest flavor (that may be because my out-of-season blackberries weren't very flavorful). I enjoyed all of these and love having a variety in my fridge. You can get creative and use this same simple method for combining all kinds of fruits and herbs.
How long will they keep? Put a lid on them, put them in fridge, and they will keep for up to 3 days. It only takes a few minutes to make several varieties to keep on hand. No more boring water for me!
Pour a glass. When there's still ice left in the jar (my ice lasts up to 24 hours in the fridge), it will filter out the fruit/herb bits as you pour the water into a glass. After the ice melts, if you don't want to drink fruit bits along with the water, use a small wire strainer to remove them as you pour the water into your drinking glass. UPDATE: Another option that was suggested by reader Kelley in the comments section is to use a sprout strainer lid made to fit wide mouth mason jars. I bought one, and it works great! (Thanks for the tip, Kelley!)
- click here to view mini wire strainer on Amazon
- click here to view strainer lid for mason jars on Amazon
Sweeten it up, if you must. If you have a sweet tooth and find these flavored waters undrinkable without some sweetener, go ahead and stir in some simple sugar syrup, honey, agave syrup, or whatever sweetener you prefer. 1 teaspoon of sugar only has 15 calories, so go ahead and add one to your glass. Given that a single can of soda or juice has the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar, you are still way better off drinking slightly sweetened water. If you are hooked on sweet tasting drinks and want to reduce or eliminate sugar or artificial sweeteners, you may need to wean yourself gradually. Unsweetened beverages are an acquired taste. I prefer them now, but it took me awhile to get there.
Great for entertaining! Flavored waters are very popular now, as more people are avoiding soda and juice. Make a variety of flavored waters to offer at your next party. Look how gorgeous they are! Refreshing, healthy, inexpensive, and beautiful. Plus you can make and refrigerate them well in advance of the party.
For more ideas for flavoring waters and ice cubes, I recommend:
COOL WATERS Cookbook
click here to view on Amazon
COOL WATERS Cookbook
click here to view on Amazon
KISS Flavored Waters. My new beverage of choice. How about you?