Horchata is a creamy, smooth sweet summer drink popular in Spain and Latin America. It is traditionally served cold in a tall glass without ice. Unlike Americans, Europeans are not fond of ice in their drinks. Horchata is usually paired with a pastry. The origin of the name horchata derives from Latin, hordeum meaning barley. It is believed that horchata or a similar drink was first made of barley, one of the oldest cereal grains to be cultivated.
Get your reCaps!
Jut as a side note: We are working with our friends over at reCap Mason Jars for their up coming drink month with one of our ethnic recipes using their reCAP pour cap. Actually we came up with two! One for the drink, horchata, and another for a fancy delicious vanilla sugared rimmed martini glass. I love storing vanilla sugar in my reCAP jar. The horchata batch that I make is exactly 1/2 gallon, it stores and pours from the 2 quart mason jar.
Sip on some history
According to my Spanish niece Teresa, horchata is native to Valencia, a province in southern Spain. There it is prepared with tigernut (chufa), a crop of the sedge family. In Latin America, horchata is prepared with different base ingredients: from rice to almonds to barley. It is believed that the Spanish conquistadors were the ones who brought horchata to the New World.
The cultivation of tigernuts dates to 4,000 B.C.; archaeological remains have been found in Egyptian tombs. Other historical records indicate that tigernuts were also used for medicinal purposes and also as air fresheners in homes to lend a sweet smell not only to the house, but also to the clothes.
Dress it up!
Although horchata is traditionally served in a tall glass, you might want to add some flair and serve it in a martini glass, perhaps with the rim coated in vanilla sugar. Here is how to add the vanilla sugar to the glass. Take a small wedge of lemon and moisten the rim of the glass. The lemon juice sticks much better than water. Once it’s moist just pour some sugar on a plate and dip the rim.
Here are the step by step photos to make horchata
- Gather all the ingredients and have them measured and ready to go.
- Let’s blanch the almonds. Take raw (not roasted or salted) plain almonds and drop them in a pan of water that is just about boiling.
- Leave them in the water for about 2 minutes and remove them with a slotted spoon.
- Immediately place them in a strainer and rinse with cold water and the skin will slide off easily. Just pinch the almond skin between your thumb and forefinger.
- Chop the almonds coursely with a knife and then using your blender work in batches adding water, almonds and rice.
- Blend on high until the rice breaks into small pieces. Pour the blended contents into a large pitcher or bowl and continue blending batches until all is done. Allow the blended rice, water and almonds to stand at room temperature for 4 hours.
- After the mixture has rested, strain into a large pitcher.
- Add the sugar, vanilla and milk. Note: You can substitute almond milk for cows milk if you want a vegan version.
- Add the cinnamon.
- Stir to combine. I like to use my Cuisinart hand blender. Chill before serving.
Here are a few tips about horchata.
You need to store this in the refrigerator as you would milk after you make it and it will last about a week as would milk. I would not freeze horchata as it would spoil the consistency and would separate. If you happen to have some fresh horchata during happy hour you can certainly add in a little rum for a delicious cocktail too.
If you want to explore more Spanish recipes here are a few you can bookmark for later or pin on Pinterest.
Polvorones de Limón are a sweet shortbread cookie with a little lime added that are Christmas tradition.
Spanish style grilled marinated pork or prueba de cerdo is a great tapas dish with paprika that cooks quickly on the grill.
Tortilla Española is wonderful and simple dish of eggs, potato and onions similar to a frittata.
- Working in batches pour the rice, almonds and the water into the bowl of a blender, blend until the rice just begins to break up, about 1 minute. Place in a large container and let the rice and the water stand at room temperature for about 4 hours.
- Strain the rice water through a strainer into a large pitcher and discard the rice. Stir in the milk, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar into the rice water. Chill and stir before serving. You can coat the rim of the glass with vanilla sugar (yum) or brown sugar.
- For an added flair, you can serve your horchata in martini glasses.
- * You can substitute almond milk for cow's milk if you want to make this into a vegan drink.
How to blanch almonds:
Take raw (not roasted or salted) plain almonds and drop them in a pan of water that is just about boiling. Leave them in the water for about 2 minutes and remove them with a slotted spoon. Immediately place them in a strainer and rinse with cold water and the skin will slide off easily. Just pinch the almond skin between your thumb and forefinger.
Vanilla sugar is nice to keep on hand for drinks; it can be substituted into recipes and I like to add it to my tea.