CASA GRANDE -- I’d never made horchata before, so when I ran across an easy recipe for it, I had to give it a try.

Horchata is known as a traditional sweet Mexican beverage made with water that has soaked in rice and flavored with a bit of sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and milk.

There are different versions of the refreshing drink found around the globe. Some include almonds, nuts or seeds and some varieties add coconut or coconut milk.

The basic idea for horchata was developed thousands of years ago in North Africa as a basic barley water drink. The drink was adapted by the Spanish into a rice-based beverage sometime around the eighth century, historians believe.

There are different methods for making horchata. Some call for soaking the rice for 24 hours. Others add more milk, sugar or spices.

The recipe I followed was found on the USDA website and is basic and super easy to follow. While it may not be traditional, it produced a delicious beverage. I used canned evaporated milk and regular granulated sugar, but the recipe could be adapted using coconut milk for a lactose-free version or a sugar alternative.

After making it, I added a few cinnamon sticks and a few whole star anise to the beverage, which added a richer flavor, especially the longer it sat in the refrigerator.

Basic horchata

USDA website

1 cup white rice, uncooked

5 cups water

½ cup milk (I used canned evaporated milk)

½ tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup sugar (or more depending on taste)

½ tablespoon ground cinnamon

Pour rice and water into the bowl of a blender and blend for about one minute until the rice begins to break down. Allow the rice and water to stand at room temperature for about three hours.

Strain the rice water into a bowl or pitcher and discard the rice.

Stir the milk, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar into the rice water. Chill and stir before serving over ice.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.