Raspberry bushes hang heavy with their ripe, purple-red fruit this time of year. We pluck them from wild bushes along neighborhood paths, and I seem to bring home a flat or two with each visit to the weekly farmers market.
We eat our fill fresh, macerating them in honey with a touch of vanilla bean. I plop them into baked goods, and puree them for popsicles and fruit leather. Recently, I developed a hankering for raspberry soda and thought I make a version to serve at home. I wanted something mildly sweet, relatively dry and with a subtle spark of fresh ginger.
How (and Why) to Make Your Own Homemade Probiotic Sodas
You might be one to avoid sodas owing to their high sugar content, but homemade, fermented sodas are another story entirely: they’re light and complex, slightly sweet and somewhat tart. Best yet, they offer a beautiful sparkle and fizz.
You can make homemade sodas the old-fashioned way by introducing a starter that is inherently rich in beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts. These bacteria and yeasts consume the carbohydrates in juice, transforming them to beneficial acids like lactic and acetic acid which, in their turn, give homemade sodas like this raspberry soda their characteristic tartness.
Among my favorite homemade sodas are spiced ginger beer and vanilla mint soda (you can find the recipes in my cookbook – The Nourished Kitchen). Once you have the technique down, you can begin to branch outfrom there to make homemade sodas inspired by what’s available to you locally.
Homemade Sodas Support a Healthy Gut
As these organisms consume those sugars, they also produce B vitamins as well as carbon dioxide gas. When you culture your sodas in a sealed environment, like a flip-top bottle, that carbon dioxide has no place to go, and it, instead, carbonates your homemade soda, and gives it its fizz and foam.
The result is a fun homemade soda that is easy to make, a source of B vitamins, and a great source for beneficial bacteria that help to build a healthy gut.
How to Use Ginger Bug to Make Homemade Sodas
Ginger bug, a slurry of ginger, sugar and water, acts as a starter culture very similarly to sourdough starter. As it sits at room temperature, the ginger bug attracts beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts that then populate the bug, which then acts as a starter for other fermented foods like homemade soda. Kombucha and water kefir also make good starts to homemade sodas.
Once you have your ginger bug going, and it’s lively, yeasty and fizzy (get the recipe here), it’s ready to use to make your own homemade sodas. Stir it well to aerate it and to evenly distribute the bacteria and yeasts, then strain off enough of the ginger bug’s liquid to provide you with what you need for your recipe, add a bit more water and sugar back to the bug in order to maintain it, and you’re ready to make a homemade, fermented soda.
Why You Should Use Flip-Top Bottles
Many of us begin fermenting by the use of mason jars because they’re easy to find and relatively inexpensive; however, if you find yourself fermenting regularly, it’s wise to invest in a fermentation crock (like this one) for fermented vegetables and a dozen or so flip-top bottles for your homemade fermented tonics and sodas.
Flip top bottles seal tightly, and don’t allow the carbon dioxide built up during fermentation to escape. Instead, flip-top bottles trap the carbon dioxide inside the homemade soda, and make it bubbly. Since fermentation is inexact, and it’s tough to gauge just how carbonated your ferment will be, take care in opening your homemade fermented sodas.
Where to Find Flip-Top Bottles
I recommend buying flip-top bottles from a home brew supply store, or online here. The initial output for good-quality, thick-walled flip-top bottles can be a little expensive; however, they’re sturdy and they last as they’re made to withstand the rigors of fermentation.
Many readers have reached out to me over the years to share that they’ve found flip-top bottles at discount stores in the home goods section; however, keep in mind that while these discounted bottles are less expensive, they are made primarily for decor, and they are not made to withstand the pressure created during fermentation. This leaves them more susceptible to breakage and the stray exploding bottle.
Raspberry Ginger Soda
- 6 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup ginger bug
- Puree the raspberries in a food processor or blender, and then strain them through a fine-mesh sieve or piece of cheesecloth, pressing them to extract about two cups of juice. Discard the seeds.
- Stir the ginger bug well to aerate it and to distribute the wild yeast and bacteria it contains, and then strain about a cup of the ginger bug liquid into the raspberry juice. Return any stray bits of ginger that remain in your strainer to your ginger bug container. Whisk water into the raspberry and ginger bug.
- Place a narrow-mouth funnel (like this one) into the neck of a flip-top bottle (order them here. Pour two cups of the raspberry and ginger mixture into each of the two flip-top bottles, seal them tightly, and allow them to ferment at room temperature for two to three days, or until bubbles begin to appear when you tip the bottle upside down and turn it right-side up again. Transfer the bottle to the refrigerator, and let it chill for at least one day before serving. Take care when opening the bottle, as its contents are under pressure and it may foam when opened.