Hydrate the Gardener: Recipes for Cooling Off

It's harvest time. If you're wondering what to do with all that extra produce, consider infused water. After all, with this brutal heat and humidity, we gardeners need to hydrate, and water is our best bet. May as well make it tasty, while saving calories on the sugary stuff. What's infused water? Read on. 

In case you forgot all the reasons you should hydrate frequently, here's a good read from WebMD. Ouch, this hurts just reading it. 

And, the top five reasons to stay hydrated (other than avoiding dehydration) are quite motivating, too. 

  1. Boosts brain power.
  2. Balances body fluids.
  3. Relieves fatigue and increases energy.
  4. Promotes weight loss
  5. Prevents cramps and sprains. 

We have a whiteboard in our office and every morning it reads: "Stay hydrated, wear your sunscreen and get plenty of rest. It's hot out there!"

Cucumber and mint infused water. I keep this one in the garden with me in a Rubbermaid non-breakable container. I drink the entire 2 quarts in a day so I don't bother to get rid of the cucumber until the jug is empty. Then I eat it.

The same goes for all gardeners who spend more time outdoors than in. So, we're sharing our top three infused water recipes from the women of BB Barns. (What? You thought the men drank these, too? We're talking Gatorade for the guys.)

Cucumber & Mint 

Super simple.

Grab a 2 quart pitcher. Fill with water. Peel one medium sized cucumber and slice in 1/2" strips, adding to water. Top it off with a sprig of mint. Refrigerate overnight to allow cucumber to infuse, then discard cucumber in the morning (or eat it). Add ice to glass and pour. The infused water lasts three days in the frig. 

Cucumber, strawberry and lime infused water. Sounds cliche, but it is refreshing after a day in the garden.

Cucumber, Strawberry & Lime

Infused waters can be done by the glass or in pitchers. For 12 oz glass of water, add 1/4 cup of strawberries, 1/4 cup of cucumbers (don't worry about peeling the cucumber when making one glass), and 2 quarter slices of lime. If  you love all things lime, this one is heralded to refresh after a day in the sun. 

Tip: Cut and freeze favorite berries, melons and vegetables to use like ice cubes in glasses of water as a way to infuse and chill your water.

 

Cantaloupe & Honeydew Melon

Watermelon, honeydew melon and mint water waiting on the gardener. Let it infuse while you work.

This recipe helps balance the body's electrolytes. I didn't find any hard evidence for that, but it is very good and somewhat sweet from the melons, so why not? 

Per 12 ounce glass of water, add 1/4 cup honeydew melon, 1/4 cup watermelon and one sprig of mint. Let infuse for 15-30 minutes, add ice and drink.

And, a bonus recipes for the brave at heart.

Jalapeno, cucumber, melon and mint

I don't have a picture of this one because I don't eat jalapeno and I don't drink them either. I'm a chicken that way. 

But, for those of you who love spicy and feel the need for a boost of energy (which it promises to give) this one is for you.

Add 1/8 cup of jalapeno, 1/2 cup of cucumber, 1/4 cup of honeydew melon and a spring of mint to 12 ounces of water. Serve over ice. 

A few tips

  1. You don't need an infuser, just a pitcher or a drinking glass works fine. 
  2. Infuse water at room temperature for 2 hours, then put the container in the refrigerator to prevent possible bacteria build up.
  3. If you don't drink the water within 24 hours, remove solids and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  4. Compare your fruits and veggies. Softer fruits, like citrus fruits or melons and berries infuse quickly, so they can be slicked thick, but harder produce like jalapenos and pears should be sliced thin because they take longer to infuse. 
  5. You can refill a container with more water. The taste will be weaker, but still flavorful.
  6. Peeling is up to you, but remember that some unpeeled foods like citrus and cucumbers will start to taste bitter after 4 hours. If you're making one glass full, don't stress over peeling. If you're making a pitcher full, peeling the fruit works best. 

Some Combinations to Try

Orange, strawberry, mintPineapple, raspberries, orange & lemonCilantro, limeLemon, thymeBlueberries, orange and basilGinger, lime, basilPearAdd a little bit of body text1.png

We'd love to hear some of your go-to combinations. There are so many good ones and lots to experiment with. Please share your favorites!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach, blog writer and outside sales staff.

BB Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The harvest is on and will continue into the late August for our summer produce.