How to Make Horchata From Scratch
Once upon a time, I grimaced at the thought of a rice drink. 7-11 had the full fledged beverage section, and among some of the weirder offerings, in my uneducated opinion, were the horchatas, rice drinks. This sounded disgusting, and many a time, I passed by, in favor of a diet soda.
When I first tasted horchata, I was hooked! It's creamy, and cinnamony, and delicious! I asked the woman who served it, "¿Cómo lo hago?" "How do I make it?" The directions, extremely easy, the taste, worth the effort, by all means!
If you are preparing menu ideas for a Cinco de Mayo fiesta, or a Mexican dinner at home, or just want to try something unique, this is definitely simple, and worthwhile! Include horchata in your plans for a cool, refreshing summer!
You will need:
- Cinnamon sticks (ground cinnamon, if you are in a rush)
- Evaporated milk (you can also use regular milk, depending on how rich you want your horchata to be)
Boil 2 quarts of water, and shut off. Add 1 cup of uncooked rice to the pan, along with 2-3 cinnamon sticks, cover tightly, and leave for 1 hour. After the rice and cinnamon have soaked in the warm water, place them, along with some of the water, in a licuadora (blender), and run it on high for a couple of minutes. Note that your rice will be slightly grainy, and there will be chunks of cinnamon sticks...this is normal.
Add the rice/cinnamon mixture, and all of the water, to your pitcher. Add two cans of evaporated milk. Stir well, and add sugar, to taste. I start with a cup of sugar, and adjust as needed. Add a tablespoon of vanilla, and if you prefer more, add more. If you need to make your rice beverage stretch farther, add more water and milk. Chill the pitcher of horchata, or serve right away, over ice.
Grainy? Yes, that's normal!
You will notice sediment at the bottom of your drink, and while the horchata you buy in the juice or dairy aisle of your grocer may not be that way, the authentic stuff, served in the markets, is usually that way to some extent. If you want to experiment with textures, you can try boiling your rice, which will give you similar flavor, and take you very close to making Arroz Con Leche, another favorite Mexican flavor!
If you need a quicker horchata, and aren't as concerned with a from scratch horchata, then I highly recommend Klass drink mixes, which you can often find online, or at your local Latino market.
Sodas? Or What?
How do you refer to a carbonated beverage?
A Quick Cultural Note...or Two
My favorite place to enjoy an horchata, or any Mexican agua, is at the flea market. From one area, to the next, there are different names for a Mexican flea market. One such label is "Globos", which means balloons. This one is fun, as balloon-like toys are often sold by vendors walking around the Globos. Another title is "Sobreruedas". Sobreruedas are ferris wheels, which makes sense, as you get to the sobreruedas, and walk round and round!
These flea markets take place on different dates, depending on location. Some are in dedicated shopping centers, but only open for business on weekends. Others set up on the side of the road, or in a particular open air location. The vendors may move from location to location, as some of the markets operate on a given weekday, others on a different weekday. One thing is certain, you will find great flavors, in food and drink, at these open air events.
Another interesting note is the difference between textbook Spanish, and dialect differences. For example, you may have learned "refresco" as a word for a refreshing drink. In the area I lived in, they were called aguas, unless they were sodas, which are, amazingly, called sodas. A friend of my daughters told of visiting relatives in mainland, and being offered a refresco. Not knowing what that meant, she asked, and was shown a soda. There are many such terms, which vary from region, to region, and it isn't so surprising, when we consider our own dialect differences. What do you call a soda?
Horchata is delicious, and flexible, as are so many traditional Mexican foods and drinks! Try this one, and tweak it, as needed!