These lightly infused, refreshing drinks are some of my favorite things; so simple, so easy and so fabulously frugal. So refreshing. Not necessarily “intensely” flavored, what I call spa water is just a gorgeous hint of vegetable or fruit, possibly with a few herbs or spices thrown in the mix. You may have seen mention of them here or there on my blog pages, but I felt it was time they got their own page.
Now and then, I come across “Spa Water” with lovely fruit or glorious cucumber slices in frosted pitchers or glasses, sparking in the sun. Then I think, gorgeous, but expensive! If one stops and thinks about it, even the parts of fruit or vegetables that we don’t use for aesthetic reasons (peels, seeds, cores, trimmings, even hulls and stems of strawberries) have tremendous flavor…I wash the whole fruit first, then place the bits and pieces I’m not using into jars, cover with water and set in the fridge to infuse overnight or over several days. Sometimes I add a few tea bags.
What comes out is perhaps a bit horrifying…leached out of their vibrant colors, bloated and floating around in murky water – but don’t let that deter you! That just means the fruit and the water are getting intimate with one another – making an exchange so to speak. At my house, it also means my son is not very likely to touch it. Oh, if he only knew what he was missing. Shhhh – don’t tell – the kid eats me out of house and home as it is. I just want one thing for myself, just this one little thing…
Strain, pour over ice or use for iced (or hot) tea for a subtle flavor. The amount of flavor depends on how much vegetation is used and how long it has infused. If it is very flavorful, I add it to a pitcher and add additional water, if not, I just enjoy as is. Sometimes, when I strain it in to a glass, I’ll simply put the fruit back into the jar and add water for a second go around. Usually, I only do this if I infuse for one day and the fruit is a strongly flavored one like a Mango.
So while you’re at the cutting board and getting ready to send something down the disposal or out to the compost, ask yourself if it can’t make a pit stop on the way and give you just a bit more bang for your buck…be spontaneous and keep a jar or two in the door for whenever you need a little pick-me-up.
Some of my favorite flavors: Cucumber, Mango Ginger or Mango Cardamom, Apple Spice, Strawberry, Rhubarb, Tomato Lime, Lemon Mint. Many are no more than “happy accidents” based on what I am cooking on any particular day.
Other uses for undesirable parts of fruits and vegetables:
- Celery stalk pieces, onion, garlic and carrot peelings and ends get thrown into a Ziploc bag and saved for stocks. Lemon sometimes, too. If I’m not making a stock during the week, it goes into the freezer.
- Many items that I don’t feel will “taste good” in a water go in a container for my next day’s green smoothie. I use an amazing amount of otherwise “wasted” food this way. And I get a lot of good fiber, trace elements, vitamins, etc. all at the same time.
So, time to fess up – who else has marvelous ideas for the pieces, parts and scraps of vegetables any sane person would toss? It doesn’t necessarily have to be food related – I’ve heard of people cleaning with baking soda and the remainder of a squeezed lemon.