Sometimes the last thing you want to chug down is a sugary beverage. Even sports drinks, supposedly more refreshing than water, leave you feeling like you got additives coming out of your pores. Lemonade? Sure, but it can taste overwhelmingly sweet and tart at times. What you need is something refreshing, not too flavourful or sweet and easy to make. Hello, cucumber water.
Cucumber water may not initially sound like the kind of thing you want to serve guests, but it is possibly the most refreshing drink, and it's natural.
Although hot-house cucumbers are available all year, field cucumbers are around for less than half of the year, generally from June through to October. So there's still time for fresh cucumber water.
Cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, two antioxidant nutrients that can help protect the skin from sun damage. Vitamin C boosts collagen and elastin, which helps keep skin looking vibrant while caffeic acid protects skin cells from UV radiation. Cucumbers also have natural anti-inflammatory properties and help to prevent water retention. Cucumbers also contain silica, an essential component of healthy connective tissue.
So how do you make cucumber water? It's pretty simple. There are two ways to do it, but both need a bit of prep time, so it helps to know ahead of time when you've got guests coming.
The first method gives you the most flavourful water: Blend up a cucumber and pour it through a very fine strainer (I like to line a sieve with cheesecloth). Let this concoction drip through in the fridge overnight. Mix the resulting cucumber juice with a pitcher of water (you can stretch this out this depending on how strong you like it - I like mine with just a hint of flavour).
Method 2: cut up a cucumber into small chunks, cover in the amount of water you want to drink and let it soak in the fridge overnight. In the morning, strain the mixture and discard the cukes.
Mint makes the drink even more cooling and refreshing. If you add mint, blend it in with the cucumber in the first method, or, if using the second method, chop the mint and let it soak with the cucumber chunks in the water overnight. You can add a squeeze of lime before serving, or place a half lime in with the concoction you're soaking overnight.
When all is said and done you've got a subtly flavoured, refreshing beverage you can serve over ice. It's surprisingly addictive, so make a bunch or it'll be gone in no time.
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto. Doug specializes in private in-home holistic cooking lessons. You can email him with inquiries or questions for the blog at firstname.lastname@example.org.