Homemade infused water is cheap, healthy and just right for Houston's heat. So grab a gallon of plain ol' water and let's jazz it up.
You have seen the endless amounts of flavored water at the grocery store aisle. Nestle has a line of water called Splash. Its flavors including mandarin orange and lemon. Ayala's Herbal Water includes lemongrass, mint vanilla and lavender mint. It's popular but pricey at $7.99 for four bottles.
But Beverly Welch and Chef Chris Crowder with the Arbor Gate in Tomball say you don't have to spend money on manufactured water, when you can create your own.
"What a great alternative to the sugary drinks in the summer -- so much more healthful, so economical and so easy to do," Welch said.
Crowder says using herbs with fruits and vegetables can create an explosion of flavor in your water.
You can use any herb to create your own concoction. Basil, sage and mint are all popular flavors you can use to infuse your water. There are several varieties of herbs from lemon basil to chocolate mint and pineapple mint.
Lemon balm is perfect to give water a punch of citrus flavor. Welch says you can create whatever flavor you want based on not just the herb but the exact variety.
"It is remarkable you can go to the sweeter side, the savory side. One of these brews that we concocted for you today has sage in it," Welch said.
And you don't have to buy herbs at the grocery store. You can plant them in your garden saving you even more money.
"They are sustainable in the garden, all of these herbs if not evergreen, are perennial so that you have them year round," Welch said.
Crowder created three varieties of infused water by muddling the herbs.
"What I am doing is releasing the oils," he said.
For the cucumber mint, Crowder added 30 slices of cucumber with 25 muddled mint leaves and a gallon of water. The water was refrigerated for 12 hours, strained and now ready to taste.
For the pineapple sage infused water, use a half of a pineapple, 20 chopped sage leaves and a gallon of water. It's kid approved.
And finally, there's the blackberry lemon verbena water.
"I did the same thing first, I muddled the lemon verbena and I poured the water and then added the blackberries," he said.
For each recipe, we infused the water in the refrigerator for 12 hours, strained it and then served.
Feel free to garnish with a couple of springs of herbs or slices of fruit for presentation.
To release the oils you really need to break apart the herbs for maximum flavor. That's what muddling is.
Pineapple Sage Infused Water
- ½ each pineapple, sliced
- 20 sage leaves, chopped
- 1 gallon water
Cucumber Mint Infused Water
- 30 slices cucumber
- 25 mint leaves
- 1 gallon water
Lemongrass Basil and Vanilla Infused Water
- 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced
- 25 basil leaves
- ½ vanilla bean, split