I’ve never been a soda fan – too bubbly and sickly sweet for me – so it’s been with vindication that I’ve learned as an adult how evil it is for your body. Of course my kids idolize it now that it’s been demonized so I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make healthy soda.
I ran across this article while googling for I can’t remember what and was intrigued.
A few weeks back I made the ginger bug as my culture by placing a cup of filtered water in a mason jar, then adding a teaspoon of diced ginger root and teaspoon of organic sugar to it. I placed a paper towel over the jar and used a rubber band to keep it on so it could breathe. I did that every day for about a week.
By the end of the week the “ginger bug” was bubbly and smelled just like strong ginger ale. It tasted like strong ginger ale too – not sweet at all.
I made a batch of simple syrup and when that was cool I added the ginger bug and 2 cubes of frozen lemon juice. I put the lid on the jar and let that sit on the kitchen counter for about 4 days. I tasted it one night and gave a little woot. It was lightly bubbly, not too sweet, delicious. My kids love it! My husband even thought it was tasty!
For me the best part is that it’s something healthy, and I don’t just mean that it’s not as bad as store bought soda is because it’s organic sugar and has no additives. It really IS healthy. The active yeast I harnessed has eaten a large amount of the sugar and left us with some wonderful probiotics in it’s place.
You’ve probably read a lot about synthetic probiotics and how good those are for your immune system and gut flora. Those are nothing compared to the probiotics in kefir, kombucha, homemade yogurt and this soda. If you really want to improve your digestion, make it easier for your body to absorb the vitamins and minerals that you are consuming, stave off those creepy flu bugs or give your body a better chance to do it’s job and protect your from rising rates of autoimmune diseases then eat real probiotics.
Homemade soda is a great place to start!
Here is how to make your own soda:
Note – You will need a glass jar that holds a gallon or two of liquid, depending on how much soda you plan to make.
Make your culture or “bug” in a pint mason canning jar.
Place one and a half cups of filtered water in the jar. Chlorinated water may kill your happy organisms which would mean no bug or bubbles. Add one tablespoon of diced fresh ginger root and 2 teaspoons of white sugar Cover the jar with a paper towel and use a rubber band or the canning ring to keep that on so you don’t get fruit flies Leave it on the kitchen counter away from other fermentation or culturing projects Every day add 2 teaspoons of diced fresh ginger and 2 teaspoons of sugar, swirling the jar to aerate it. You can aerate the jar more frequently during the day to keep it oxidized and make it work faster. If your bug gets moldy or starts to smell funky discard it and start again. Depending on room temperature and other factors your bug may be ready in 3-4 days, or may take as long as a week. You will know it’s ready because it will be very bubbly like soda.
Steep your flavoring in half of your filtered water (i.e. to make one gallon total of soda you will have 1/2 gallon of flavoring water, the other half will come from your simple syrup.) To make ginger ale gently boil one sliced thumb’s length of ginger root per gallon of water for 20 minutes. To make lemon, lime or orange soda boil citrus peel for 20 minutes. To make sarsparilla or root beer let about 2 Tablespoons of dried sarsparilla root and 1 – 2 Tablespoons of dried wintergreen leaves steep overnight in your water. You can find both at Bob’s Homebrew in Ravenna/U District in Seattle. You can also easily grow edible wintergreen in the Pacific NW. I found my plants at Raintree Nursery.
Make Simple Syrup.
Warm the rest of your filtered water and dissolve 1 1/2 cups of sugar per gallon of finished soda you plan to make. I made one gallon of soda total so I made 1/2 gallon of simple syrup, using 1 1/2 cups organic evaporated cane juice.
Let your simple syrup cool to body temperature Pour the simple syrup in your gallon jar and then add at least one cup of your bug and your flavored water. If you like you can add additional flavoring like blackberry syrup or citrus juice. Cover your jar tightly and let it ferment. According to the article I linked above, you let it ferment from 4 – 10 days depending on how sweet you like your soda. The shorter fermentation times will yield a sweeter soda. This is all dependent on room temperature and bug strength so taste it every day. When your soda is ready you can divide it into smaller bottles and let it sit at room temperature for another 2-5 days to build up some fizz inside each bottle. Once it is fizzy enough for you, put the bottles in the refrigerator to stop the fizzing process.
I don’t like very fizzy soda so I omitted this step and just put it into smaller mason jars in the fridge. The bigger the jar and the more frequently you open it, the less fizzy your soda will be.
I’d love to hear how yours turned out, or flavorings that you used. The sarsparilla is my favorite! Here is my flavoring water that I’ve let steep with sarsparilla root and wintergreen overnight, before adding the bug and simple syrup.