Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bountiful Basket day: fruit infused waters

There are things I do every other Saturday morning to prepare to the onslaught of fruit and veggies I receive on my produce co-op's local chapter. It's called Bountiful Baskets and I have written about it many times.

When I get home on BB Saturdays I like to soak and wash the produce in vinegar water. To prepare, I wash the dishes, clean the sink and then sterilize it. When I get home I put it all in the sink and fill it and add a half cup of vinegar. Let soak for 10 min. I do this even with fruits or veggies that have a hard rind like oranges or cantaloupe.

I learned this week that cantaloupe is one of the top ten dirtiest foods that can make you sick. Cantaloupes can contain Listeria. Apparently the fact that they lay on the ground as they grow, in soaking water that may contain sewage or other contaminants, and are easily retained in the wrinkled rind, launch them into the top ten along with chicken and beef. When you cut into a cantaloupe the germs on the rind travel inside to the fruit and infect you as you eat. Gross, I know but important to know. So not only do I soak cantaloupes in the sink's vinegar water but I turn them every few minutes as they bob.

I decided to try fruit infused waters. I'm sick of looking at juice ingredients and seeing sugar, sugar, sugar. Corn syrup or High fructose. All the same, sugar. I don't drink soda and Orange Juice is too expensive, especially the kind that's juice only. I usually have a jug of water in the fridge I put a little lemon in when I drink it. I also have jugs of sun herb tea. I easily eat the BB produce in two weeks but occasionally I have some left over, like this week with three mangoes. It's nice to actually have extra produce in which to branch out. I figure they'll be perfect to try fruit infused waters with.

Eating regular fruit gives you the fiber, and it the best way to consume it, I believe. But chopping it up and adding it to water and ice with some herbs or spices isn't too bad either! The only problem is that I don't have a pitcher. In my mode of "use what you have" rather than "run to the store right now and buy one" I thought and I thought and I remembered I have two wide-mouthed vases in the top shelf of the unused cupboard.

The one on the right has a rim that is the same size as the lids on commercially bought dips etc. so I'll be able to cover the top. They both hold 48 ounces of liquid. A lot of that space will be taken up by the fruit and by 3 cups of ice, but that's OK. I don't think regular pitchers are a lot bigger.

I'll start with "Day Spa Mango Ginger Water". I have the mango, which I mentioned already. I've chopped it into cubes and it's freezing as we speak. I don't have real ginger but I do have powdered. It'll have to do. I dug out the ice cube trays and made room in the freezer for those. I don't like ice in my drinks so the trays were relegated to the back shelf long ago. But the fruit infused waters don't use ice in the drink, only the infusion process. The ice cubes are placed in the pitchers to hold the fruit and spices down and help it infuse. Here's the recipe:


1 inch Ginger Root, peeled and sliced
1 cup Frozen Mango- fresh is fine too

Get Started:

To peel the ginger use the back of a spoon or a vegetable peeler, just peel the part that you will be using. Using a sharp knife slice ginger into 3-4 coin sized slices. You want them about the size and thickness of the coin.

-Drop into your pitcher and add in the mango.

-Top with 3 cups of ice and then add with water.(the ice is important, it holds down the ginger and mango to help infuse the water)

-Place in your fridge for 1-3 hours before serving.


They don't recommend the powdered ginger, which they say doesn't have the same flavor and clumps in the water, but oh well. Maybe I'll toss the frozen mango chunks in some powdered ginger before putting it in the water. Below is a link to a less commercial discussion about naturally flavored waters.

If I'm going to toss in slices of lemon or orange or other fruits into water I plan to drink, then it is triply important that I've washed the outside, the rind, and thoroughly disinfect the item. I'm not a huge fan of cucumbers but I've read that adding cukes to water is 'seriously refreshing' so that is another frugal aspect, I can not only infuse waters with items I haven't gotten to eat within a ripening time frame, but also use produce that is second-tier in a way I may enjoy more.

This link shows the waters infused in mason jars, which I really like, because mason jars are a great way to both store things and use. I like the single serving aspect, too. A friend gives me canned items in mason jars and I have half a dozen jars now. I love them. I'll try the pitcher and the mason jar method and see what works. I think living frugally and cooking well both stem from a willingness to experiment.

Here is an excerpt:
Naturally Flavored Water by Monica Matheny
"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."

Now my go-to beverages will be water, herb sun tea, and fruit flavored natural waters. I'll let you know how it goes.

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