Strawberry Vanilla Agua Fresca

The nearly two pounds of leftover strawberries from Andrea's cake were taunting me incessantly from the refrigerator; threatening to turn white and fuzzy at any moment if I didn't find a suitable application for them quickly. Thanks to Serious Eats, I found exactly what I was looking for.

Aguas Frescas are refreshing, light fruit drinks popular in Latin America, which basically consist of some sort of pureed fruit, sugar, and ice cold water. I would make no adjustments to this recipe unless you're making it for a picky 7-year-old, in which case you should add a glug or two of simple syrup to pump up the sweetness. Otherwise she may tell you "it tastes like nothing." Hmph.

While we didn't partake on Saturday afternoon for obvious reasons, a splash or two of Triple Sec or Limoncello might be nice also.

You will need:

1 pound strawberries, hulled
4 cups ice cold water, divided
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
Ice, for serving
Optional: simple syrup, recipe follows

In a blender, combine the strawberries with 2 cups of the water and the vanilla extract. Puree until completely liquid. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve or through cheesecloth into a pitcher.

Stir in the remaining 2 cups water, lemon juice, sugar and/or simple syrup to taste, if using. Pour into ice-filled glasses and serve.

Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
2 cups sugar

Bring the water to a rolling boil and add sugar. Stir and heat through until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature and pour into a sterilized glass bottle (I just dunked it and rinsed it in some more boiling water). Keep in refrigerator for up to a month.

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