There are few things as satisfying as an ice-cold glass of water — especially on a hot day. During the warm summer months, I find myself refilling my cup almost every hour. And although an icy glass of water is more than enough to quench my thirst, I love jazzing up my water with fresh fruits, vegetables, or herbs to create a drink that’s refreshing and naturally flavored.
One of my favorite ways to flavor water is with cool, crisp cucumbers. Cucumber water, in its simplest form, is made from an infusion of sliced cucumbers in water. In this recipe, I use a few extra ingredients like ginger, lemon, and mint, along with some thoughtful techniques, to make this version extra refreshing.
What do cucumbers do in water?
Cucumbers, similarly to celery and watermelon, contain a great amount of water. When cucumbers are sliced and added to water, the juices and excess moisture from the cucumbers release, infusing the water with cucumber flavor.
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In this recipe, an English cucumber is sliced into both ribbons and rounds. While that may seem a little silly to do, there are benefits to the varying cuts beyond eye appeal. The larger exposed surface area of the ribbons speeds up the infusion, making for a more flavorful water in a shorter amount of infusion time. The smaller cucumber rounds also flavor the water (although not as quickly as the ribbons) and maintain a crispness, ensuring that they’re just as enjoyable to eat even after infusion.
How long should you leave cucumbers in water?
The cucumber water is ready after two hours of infusion and the cucumber water can be kept chilled for up to two days in the refrigerator.
Makes about 8 cups
- 1 (2-inch) piece ginger
- 1 medium lemon
- 3 sprigs fresh mint, plus more for serving
- 1 medium English cucumber (about 8 ounces)
- 2 quarts (8 cups) water
- Lemon slices, for serving
1. Peel a 2-inch piece of ginger and cut into 3 pieces. Use the back of the knife to crush each piece of ginger, keeping each piece intact. Place in a large pitcher.
2. Slice 1 medium lemon into rounds. Add the slices and 3 fresh mint sprigs to the pitcher.
3. Trim the ends off 1 medium English cucumber. Cut the cucumber in half crosswise. Using a sharp knife or mandolin, cut one piece lengthwise to create thin ribbons about 1/16-inch thick. Cut the other piece crosswise into thin rounds. Add the cucumber ribbons and rounds to the pitcher. Give everything a few good stirs to get the juices from the lemon and cucumbers flowing and to let the flavors begin to marry.
3. Add 2 quarts (8 cups) water and stir to combine. Infuse in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. (Overnight will be more concentrated in flavor.)
4. Remove the ginger from the water before serving. Serve the cucumber water chilled over ice, letting slices of cucumber and lemon fall into the glass. Garnish each glass with a fresh lemon slice and fresh mint sprig if desired.