Aguas frescas, creamy salsa, cecina-style jerky: Keep your eyes peeled for these products this summer

At the Taste of Mexico event earlier this month, I tried a handful of new local food products that you’ll hopefully be seeing on store shelves soon.

Aguas frescas are a popular, refreshing summer drink, and there’s a new local company called Alegria that is selling bottled versions at some neighborhood markets. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Serving a delicious trio of aguas frescas was Alegria, which makes the refreshing drink in hibiscus, cucumber-mint and melon. The drink is currently sold at some neighborhood corner markets, like the Rosedale Market, but with less sugar and more flavor than other aguas frescas on the market right now, you’ll see this product more widely available this summer.

I could eat this Pancho Bigotes salsa on everything, including saltine crackers. It’s made in San Antonio and you can buy it online, for now. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The same is true of Pancho Bigotes Salsas, a creamy salsa company out of San Antonio, with makes a spicy, rich salsa verde with serrano, garlic and cilantro. The company also makes a “chimi hot” version with fresh chiles de arbol and no cilantro, but they are both welcome additions to chips, tacos, scrambled eggs and sandwiches. (I bought a jar at the event it was so good.) Most creamy salsas you can buy in grocery stores now are on the sweet side, but this one isn’t, thanks to the vinegar, spices and egg. With any luck you’ll find this good-on-everything sauce in supermarkets soon, but for now, you’ll have to buy them online.

Amaranth is the key ingredient to alegrias, a Mexican candy that Sweet Tsopelik sells at the HOPE Farmers Market on Sundays. Contributed by Sweet Tsopelik.

I discovered Sweet Tsopelik on the rooftop of Mexi-Arte’s popular annual party. This local Mexican candy company uses traditional ingredients, such as┬ápeanuts, coconut and amaranth, to makes treats like alegrias, a crispy snack made with amaranth, agave nectar, pecans, pumpkin seeds, raisins and lime juice. The company, which sells at the HOPE Farmers market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays, also produces tamarindos, palanquetas and mazapanes.

El Norteno makes cecina-style jerky that includes a small bag of hot sauce. You can find them in some convenience stores and H-E-Bs in Central Texas. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

El Norte├▒o Foods makes a line of beef jerky that’s worth checking out, especially if you like the popular Mexican-style jerky called cecina or are looking for a spicy jerky that’s low in sugar. The jerky comes in several flavors, including mango habanero, and they all include a little packet of hot sauce. The meat sticks, which come in lime and habanero flavors, don’t have the hot sauce, but they well-spiced on their own. Find these at convenience stores throughout Central Texas and some H-E-Bs.

You don’t have to be a student to take these food science, cooking classes at UT this summer

Want to learn about food science, nutrition and cooking this summer?

Susie’s Kitchen is a new series of science, nutrition and cooking classes taught at the University of Texas. The first class is June 16. Contributed by Vivian Abagiu.

The University of Texas is offering four classes, starting June 16, in the Susie Jastrow Teaching Kitchen, which is part of its nutrition sciences department in Mary Gearing Hall.

Susie’s Kitchen, as the new series is known, will cover some of the hottest topics in nutrition right now, including the Mediterranean diet, fermentation, plant-based diets and anti-inflammatory foods. Each Saturday class is taught by advanced undergraduate students in the nutritional sciences department and features a classroom portion on the science behind the diet recommendations and then a cooking class in the test kitchen where students learn how to incorporate the recommendations into their cooking. The class then gets to eat the food together for lunch.

The classes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. cost $100 each, or you can get a discount if you buy all four.

The Susie Jastrow Teaching Kitchen at UT is in Mary Gearing Hall. Contributed by Vivian Abagiu.