Horchata de Morro
Horchata is one of many South American and Spanish drinks made from plant milk.
It is part of the big family of aguas frescas (“fresh waters” in Spanish). The Salvadoran version called horchata de morro is prepared with ground morro seeds and is consumed all over the country.
This drink is also prepared with squash seeds, white rice, sesame seeds, peanuts, cocoa beans, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander seeds and allspice. Sugar and vanilla extract are also added. This drink is very refreshing and nutritious. It is consumed by Salvadorans throughout the day.
How to make horchata de morro
All the seeds and the rice are roasted separately in a small pan or in the oven. They are then ground obtaining until a fine powder. This mixture can thus be preserved to easier prepare horchatas later.
It should be kept in a sealed box. Then, water or very cold milk is added gradually until the drink is homogeneous. It is then filtered through a cheesecloth before sugar is added, to taste.
Ready-to-use mixtures are also commercially available to make horchata quickly and easily.
What is the origin of horchata de morro?
The word horchata comes from the Latin hordeata, derived from hordeum which means “barley”. This drink, already consumed in Ancient Egypt, became popular in Spain during the Muslim conquest.
From the city of Valencia, the recipe for horchata finally won the New World. It is made with white rice and cinnamon instead of tiger nuts as in West Africa and Spain or from local tree seeds such as morro.
What is morro?
The morro seed comes from the tree of the same name, also known as jicaro. This tree grows in dry climates and gives round and hard fruits, it is the seeds of this fruit which are used in the preparation of the horchata de morro.
What are the benefits of horchata de morro?
With such a concentration of seeds and grains, horchata de morro is a healthy, mineral-rich drink. It is rich in vitamins C and E. It is a significant source of magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron and potassium.
It also contains antioxidants. It facilitates digestion thanks to its enzymes. In addition, horchata de morro can be made with water and not milk, so it can be consumed without problems by lactose intolerant people
What are the other versions of horchata de morro?
The horchata de Valencia or horchata de chufa is made with dried and sweet tiger nuts (a nut, or rather a tuber known as a superfood). This drink is also consumed in Nigeria and Mali where it is known as kunnu aya.
Horchatas can be prepared with vanilla or various fruits.
In Spain and Latin America, horchata de arroz is prepared with rice and sometimes vanilla or cinnamon. In Alvarado, Mexico, people perfume this drink with suchil flowers.
Horchata de ajonjoli is prepared with ground sesame seeds and is found mainly in Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
There is an alcoholic version in Venezuela called chicha andina. The non-alcoholic version is called chichi.
There are also versions of the horchata prepared with sweet melon seeds (cantaloupe), jicaro seeds, cocoa or, as in Ecuador, with 18 herbs infused, which gives it a slightly pinkish hue.
Horchata looks like orgeat that is an almond-based drink that is made in France or Italy (orzata).
Horchata is also used as an aromatic agent in many desserts such as ice cream, sweets, cakes or cookies.
So Many Ways to Make Sweet Refreshing Horchata
Mention the word horchata and many immediately think of the refreshing rice-based drink from Mexico. Yet this isn’t the only kind that can replace a cold soda on a hot day or substitute a cup of hot tea on a cold afternoon. Here are some of our favorite horchata recipes — along with traditional variations on this sweet, refreshing treat.
Make Mexican horchata in your blender. This refreshing rice- and milk-based drink is gently spiced with cinnamon and vanilla. It’s easy to make. And it really takes the sting off spicy foods.
A refreshing rice drink with evaporated milk, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon. “This version does not need to be boiled,” says LatinaCook. “Make a slush by adding crushed ice.”
Here’s a horchata with a cold-brew coffee kick! Iced cold-brew coffee combines with rice-almond water.
This tropical horchata is the perfect refresher for hot summer nights and sunny days at the beach. Coconut milk adds richness and body to this classic rice and cinnamon drink, and the vanilla notes make it taste almost like dessert.
This version calls for soy milk. “Just as yummy as taqueria horchata,” says Vanessa.
How the World Does Horchata
Here are more ideas for flavoring your homemade horchata.
Made with soaked and ground tiger nuts mixed with water and sugar, Spanish horchata is considered the predecessor to other horchatas. In fact, Spaniards have been turning sweet tiger nuts into a refreshing horchata since the 13th century. “The best tasting horchata is the one that’s made with good-quality tiger nuts,” says Tino Bendicho, the owner of Horchata Mercader, a Valencia, Spain-based family company that’s been making horchata for three generations. The locals like the drink served either cold or mixed with ice like a frozen shake and accompanied by fartons, long, flaky sweet pastries that they dip into their horchatas.
In the 16th century, Spanish colonialists brought horchata to Latin America. But because tiger nuts weren’t cultivated there, rice and other ingredients were used as substitutions.
Recipes for Mexican horchata are numerous but the usual ingredients include blended rice, water, milk, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla. Some people add fruit such as melon, and some experiment with including shredded coconuts, almonds, or lemon peel.
In El Salvador, horchata is made from the seeds of the morro, a fruit that looks a little like green coconut and grows attached to the trunk or large branches of the morro tree. After drying in the sun, the seeds are ground and mixed with water to make the horchata.
The drink, which some in Nicaragua refer to as horchata, is similar to its Mexican and El Salvador counterparts in that it combines both morro seeds (known in Nicaragua as jicaro seeds) and rice in the recipe. Sometimes cinnamon and vanilla are added for flavor and milk is used instead of water.
In Honduras, soaked, ground rice is the basis for the drink with other ingredients such as cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla added to taste. In some parts of the country morro (jicaro) seeds make up the prime ingredient with rice added into the mixture.
The horchata in Puerto Rico is called horchata de ajonjolí and it uses neither morro seeds nor rice. Instead, people on the island grind sesame seeds — either toasted or plain — with water and brown sugar. They then strain the mixture and the resulting drink can be consumed either on its own or mixed with hot cereals or smoothies.
Ecuadorean horchata is probably the most different of them all because it involves no rice or seeds of any kind. Often referred to as horchata lojala, it’s made from a mix of herbs and flowers known for their medicinal qualities with escancel giving the drink its distinctive red color. Ecuadorian horchata is also the only horchata that can be served—and enjoyed—either cold or hot.
“When it comes to delicious, unique, and refreshing summer drinks, it’s hard to beat horchata,” says Chef John. “We’re doing a Mexican-style horchata, which is done with rice and almonds. The result is something that sort of looks like milk, but is much lighter, and pairs perfectly with all your favorite summer foods.”
Want more? How about Horchata Pops?!
Here’s a super-modern twist on an old treat. Sweet, spicy and cool, these refreshing pops combine the classic Latin American rice beverage with hot cinnamon whiskey and cayenne. The combo of ice cold and spicy heat makes is a summertime thrill! See how it’s done:
Pumpkin seed horchata
Horchata—opaque, sweet, pleasantly gritty, and creamy but made without milk—is wildy popular in Central and Southern Mexico, especially in Oaxaca and the Yucatan Peninsula. Horchata can be made from such a variety of ingredients–rice, almonds, tigernuts, barley, seeds—that it can be thought of as a technique, rather than a singular product. It is made by soaking, grinding, pulverizing, and finally straining a base ingredient such as rice, tigernuts, almonds or seeds. The resulting liquid is a suspension—tiny, tiny little pieces or globules of starch, protein, and fat floating around in water. The particles are way too small to see with the naked eye, but they are big enough to appear white and opaque instead of clear, giving the liquid its creamy appearance. This horchata is made from pumpkin seeds and laced with cinnamon and allspice.
In a non-reactive pot or container, combine the pumpkin seeds, water, allspice and cinnamon. Cover and steep the mixture for 2 hours on the countertop, or refrigerate overnight. (If you’re pressed for time, soak the ingredients using hot water and store at room temperature for 90 minutes; this will yield a slightly less-creamy horchata.)
Pour the mixture into a blender (this may need to be done in batches), along with the sugar and salt and blend at high speed until the seeds are completely broken down and the mixture is light and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes.
Strain the mixture using a fine mesh strainer, pushing out all of the liquid and discarding the solids. Add additional water to thin if desired. This makes about 1 ½ quarts horchata, depending on your desired thickness. The horchata will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 2 to 3 days. Serve over ice.
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