Agua de Tamarindo
Serving Size / Yield
- 1/2 - 3/4 lb. tamarindo pods
- 1 1/2 qts. water
- 1/2 C. piloncillo, crushed (if you don't have access to piloncillo, you can substitute brown sugar)
Begin by peeling the hard pod away from the sticky fruit inside. Grab the stem-end and snap it. There are strings that run the length of the pod; gripping the stem, pull down, releasing the strings from the fruit. This will crack the pod on the way down. Peel off what remains of the pod. You will be left with a long, sticky tamarindo. The bumps are the areas where there are seeds. You do not need to remove the seeds now for making the agua fresca, but they do pop out pretty easily if you make a little slit in the side.
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy pot. Add the shelled fruit and the piloncillo. Boil for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar and loosen the tamarindo from the seeds, then cover and turn off the heat. Let the pot sit for 3 or 4 hours or even overnight. Remove the lid and stick in your clean hands and massage all that tamarindo pulp around Make sure it's mashed up good and that it's released from the seeds. Strain it into a pitcher that holds at least 2 quarts. Press on the pulp and seeds to make sure you get all that great flavor out. If you don't like the cloudy sediment (which is delicious and harmless), then strain it again, but this time set a damp coffee filter inside your strainer to hold all the larger sediment. Add enough cold water to make 2 quarts. Taste and if you like it sweeter, stir in a bit more crushed piloncillo. Mi suegra sometimes just makes the water initially without the piloncillo and sets a whole cone of it in the water while it's sitting, letting it dissolve on its own. You can do it either way. Serve it nice and cold.