Hydration revelation

Fruit-infused water takes over

I admit, I have a problem. I don’t like water, never have. Every great once in a while, an ice-cold glass of it hits the spot, but those instances are very few and far between. Nine times out of 10, I’ll take a glass of juice or soda or wine over fresh, clean H20.

Cut to a particularly hot Chico day. I was at a friend’s house and she offered me a glass of cucumber water. Hmmph, I thought. Hesitantly, I accepted, thankful that she brought me a small glass. But before I left her house that day, I had a second. Then, as if the universe had a message to send me, a few days later, while ordering a sandwich at a deli counter, I noticed that, perched beside the register was a jug of water filled with ice and a dozen or more floating orange slices. All right, I’m giving it a try, I told myself. Delicious!

I was suddenly sold on fruit-infused water. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, this is a thing. A quick Internet search for “How to make cucumber water” revealed dozens of recipes for all manner of fruit-infused waters, along with just as many claims of the amazing health benefits and detoxifying properties of such beverages (“It may help prevent cancer!”). There are even specially made water bottles with compartments for the fruit, and then I noticed Safeway sells bottles of fruit-infused waters for $2 a pop. Who knew!?

For my first foray into this new world, I decided to keep it simple. I attempted to replicate my friend’s cucumber water. Ingredients: 1 cucumber. I scrubbed it, chopped the ends off and then peeled it in strips, which I think looks cool and figured would add more surface area of cucumber exposed to the water. Then I sliced it thinly, threw the slices into the bottom of a gallon Mason jar, filled it up with filtered tap water and set it in the fridge to do its magical infusion thing. A few hours later, I took my first sip. Pure refreshment.

I immediately went out to the store in search of more fruits to add to water. I bought strawberries and a pineapple. Unfortunately, I hadn’t finished the gallon of cucumber water yet, and I had no other big jar to put all the fruit in. So, I dipped half the strawberries in chocolate (yum) and sliced up the pineapple and used half of it in a Hawaiian-style fried rice (also yum). Then it occurred to me that I didn’t have to infuse the water by the pitcher—I could just do it by the glass. I sliced up a few strawberries and added them to a large cup with some of the pineapple chunks, poured in some H20, set the glass in the fridge and voilà! I’m a genius!

You can really do this with any fruit (so long as it won’t become mush in water), including all manner of berries and citrus. And much like you’d do for a mojito, you can add muddled mint leaves for a layer of freshness, or even crumpled basil, if you’re feeling a little more sophisticated.

As for the purported health benefits, I think first and foremost, fruit infusions are the perfect trick to get me to drink more water—which is definitely a plus for my health, particularly in this heat. Fruits also contain a variety of vitamins and antioxidants, though you’d probably get the most benefits from actually eating fruit. But just drinking the essences can’t hurt, and it certainly tastes great. Cheers!