By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County
The Truth Contributor
Not everyone loves drinking plain water, so infused water is a healthy alternative to beverages that are high in sugar. It is as simple as adding some clean, rinsed and sliced fruits, vegetables and herbs to your glass or pitcher of water. There is no right or wrong way to make infused water, but these tips might enhance the flavor:
- Depending on the added ingredients, either slice, chop or lightly mash fruits or vegetables, and either tear or julienne fresh herb leaves.
- Although the flavored water will be served in a single-sized glass, it could be made in either a drinking glass or a larger amount in a water pitcher.
- No special kitchen equipment is needed, although there are pitchers and water bottles designed to contain the produce so those ingredients are not floating in the water when it is time to drink it.
- Infused water could be served immediately after it is mixed, but it will not have the maximum amount of flavor. It’s also nice chilled. It is recommended that the water is chilled in the refrigerator from thirty minutes to overnight for optimum flavor. Often, the longer it is chilled, the more flavor it will have.
- As in any food or beverage preparation, do not forget to wash hands with soap and water before handling the food, as well as wash all produce with clean running water. Use clean containers and sanitize preparation surfaces before starting.
- For food safety, treat the infused water as you would treat any other refrigerated food. The water can be enjoyed today, stored in the refrigerator until tomorrow or freeze it for longer storage. Do not take a batch of infused water from a previous day and add to it – go ahead and make a fresh pitcher!
- The produce used in infused water is often thrown away in the trash or down the disposal. Don’t forget, the kitchen compost is always a great option for these waterlogged ingredients.
Please remember that to gain the most nutrition benefits from fruits and vegetables, it is recommended that you eat the produce. While infused water is a great way to stay hydrated, these will not count as your servings of fruits or vegetables for the day. The next time you are slicing fresh produce to eat, consider adding a handful to your water pitcher. Infused water can be low-cost by using ends and pieces of produce that are not going to be used for meal preparation. Because it’s so easy to make, and there is not a right or wrong recipe to try or invent.
There is nothing wrong with purchasing lemons and limes at the grocery store, but as our garden season gets growing, we are fortunate to have many options of flavors growing in containers, backyards, community gardens, school gardens and farms this spring and summer.
Ohio Fruits to flavor water:
- Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, blueberries
- Melons – cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon
- Apples, Pears, Peaches, Grapes
Ohio vegetables: While vegetables are not as common as fruits in infused water, it is not unusual to use cucumber. Some additional vegetables to add color and flavor include: celery, red or yellow peppers, spinach or zucchini.
From the Herb Garden:
While this list is not exhaustive, the following herbs can maximize options for water flavor combinations: basil, rosemary, sage, lavender and lemon balm.
Mint is a common flavor to infuse water and there are many varieties of mint beyond the traditional peppermint and spearmint. Try pineapple mint or grapefruit mint for a tropical taste. One variety of mint, mojito mint is growing in a raised garden bed near the OSU Extension office at the Toledo Botanical Garden Metropark. See below for details on an upcoming garden walk.
A Sample of Local Food Combinations for Infused Water:
- Strawberry Melon (choose any variety of melons)
- Pear Blackberry
- Pear Rosemary
- Watermelon Rosemary
- Peach Sage
- Strawberry Basil
- Match mint with any of the following: cucumber, cantaloupe, watermelon or blackberry
Please join us at upcoming, in-person classes, free and open to everyone, www.lucas.osu.edu
- Friday, May 5th, 12 – 1pm, From Plant To Plate, Garden Community Program held at the ProMedica Ebeid Institute, 1806 Madison Avenue, 2nd floor above Market on the Green.
- Saturday, May 6, 2023 – Toledo Plant Exchange at Lucas County Fairgrounds, 1406 Key Street, Maumee, Ohio. Bring your plants or gently used garden paraphernalia. Event opens at 8:30 am with exchanged scheduled to begin at 10:00 am. Check out the Facebook Page for more information – Facebook, Toledo Plant Exchange
- Thursday, May 18th, 6 – 7:30pm, Family Walk during Blue Week at Toledo Botanical Garden Metroparks with OSU Extension. All ages welcome.