The more fermenting of food I do, the more I love it. My current passion is creating lacto-fermented sodas. Since it’s fruit season, I’ve been experimenting with simple fruit soda recipes, and will share my soda recipe for homemade blueberry soda with you.
Recently I served some of my lacto-fermented soda at a potluck and people were so excited to drink it. One woman spoke about how alive it tasted and how energetic she felt after drinking it.
This is the truth about the origins of sodas. These drinks that have become such a detriment to modern health started out as health tonics. That’s why you would see soda fountains in pharmacies. The sodas were a way of harnessing the vitamins and minerals stored in the roots or other plant matter and putting them into a tasty drink.
When we use the practice of lacto-fermentation to create our sodas we are not only pulling the vitamins and minerals from the plant material, we’re also adding the healthy microorganisms that help our bodies break down and assimilate food. The fermentation process can also create new nutrients such as B vitamins.
These sodas truly are a wonderful health tonic to add to your diet!
So, let’s get on to the soda recipe. This is adapted from my experience in a soda making class taught by Jennifer Sundstrom and an article called Artisanal Home Soda Fermentation by Charles Eisenstein that can be found on the Weston Price Foundation website.
The process takes a couple of weeks; so don’t get started on this soda recipe just before leaving on vacation.
The first step is to create your soda culture for your soda recipe.
What you’ll need…
- 2 to 3 inch piece of ginger root
- About 1/2 cup sugar (white sugar is fine or you can use sucanat or maple syrup)
Fill a quart mason jar to 3/4 full with filtered water (it’s best if you can remove the chlorine).
Add 1 tablespoon of grated or finely chopped ginger and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Stir well.
Cover with cheesecloth and allow to sit out for 24 hours.
Add 2 teaspoons of ginger and 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir well each morning for a week.
If possible, stir 2 or 3 times per day.
After a week, it should become slightly bubbly and pleasant smelling. At this point it is ready to be used in your soda making. If you are not going to use it all right away, you can cap it and keep it in your refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Blueberry Soda Syrup
The next step is to create your syrup for your soda recipe.
What you’ll need…
- About 6 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 gallon filtered water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup soda culture (see above)
Put 1/2 gallon of filtered water in a large pot. Bring the water to a boil. Stir in your sugar or other sweetener.
(Remember that the microorganisms are going to consume this sugar during the process of fermentation and transform it. This is what creates the soda’s fizz. So white sugar is not as bad a choice for this soda recipe as it is for non-fermented foods.)
Add your blueberries to the pot (these can be fresh or frozen and other kinds of fruit can be substituted for the blueberries – peaches, blackberries, etc.) and bring the water back to a boil. Allow them to simmer in the water for about 10 minutes.
Taste what you’ve created. Does it taste fruity enough? If not, maybe you want to add more berries or simmer a bit longer. (This is not an absolute process.)
Pour this hot liquid plus the berries into a gallon jar. (The hot liquid will help sterilize your jar. You may want to put a knife or other clean metal object into the jar to help draw some of the heat to keep the jar from breaking.)
Fill the jar almost to the top (you’ll need to leave some space to add your cup of culture) with cool filtered water, and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature.
Now add 1 cup of soda culture (don’t worry if some of the ginger gets into your brew – it won’t be enough to add its flavor).
Stir well. Cover with cheesecloth and allow to sit out on your counter. Leave the brew to sit for 3 to 7 days, stirring well 2 or 3 times a day. The longer it sits, the more it will ferment and the more of the sugars will be consumed. If you want a sweeter soda, stop the fermentation earlier. For my blueberry soda, I only let it sit until it started bubbling – about 3 days. Taste your soda after 3 days and see if you like it. Bottle it when you are ready.
To bottle the soda after finishing your soda recipe, strain it and then pour it into some kind of bottle that can seal. You can use these fancy sorts of bottles or simply well cleaned bottles with screw tops – the options are many. Leave the bottles to sit out overnight (or longer if it is not fizzy enough after one day). The fermentation process will continue and the closed bottles will trap the bubbles, so your soda will turn out nicely carbonated.
Use caution when opening your sodas. It’s great to put a bowl over the top and a bowl underneath, in case they fizz over the top of the bottle. If your sodas are as fizzy as you like in the morning, put them into the fridge to slow the fermentation process.
Be aware – bottles left too long on the counter can explode if the pressure builds up too much. Also, the fermentation process will continue in the fridge, though much more slowly. Bottles left too long in the fridge may also explode. So don’t forget to drink the soda after you’ve made it.
Pour into a glass with ice and enjoy, or serve to your eager children or guests. It’s wonderful to provide such a healthy, delicious drink to your friends and family!
Enjoy this refreshing and healthful soda recipe!