Thursday, July 12, 2012

How To: It’s Alive!!! (the soda, that is…)

I pray on the principle that wine knocks the cork out of a bottle. There is an inward fermentation, and there must be a vent. – Henry Ward Beecher

The result of my labours – cherry soda. Now to slow carbonate in the refrigerator.
Sometimes things work, sometimes things don’t. And then there’s times things work unbelievably well.

This is one of those times it exceeded all expectations.

Simple, simple ingredients.
I have found making soda quite a “rewarding” experience. I have outlined on this blog stages 1 (what I intended to do) and stage 2 (the creation of the “soda mother”). Stage 3 happened far more quickly than I (or my online tutors) predicted.

If you remember, the mother was three ingredients – plus a jar: 2 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp ginger and a 1 L Mason jar 3/4 full of spring water (non-chlorinated water). This sits on the counter, covered elegantly with pantyhose (or cheesecloth).

The mixture gets fed every day (2 tsp more of ginger and sugar). It looks unpromising, and then a miracle happens. Bubbles start to form, then more and more and more. This is the mother, which I understand can be kept alive for quite a long time if tended and fed. (Much like a real mother...)

From an unpromising start...
After the mother is made you then proceed to actually making soda. To do so you use juice or other flavourings, sugar and some of the mother. Mix, let sit for 3-7 days and voila. Soda. (Refer to my previous posts for a bit more detail...)

Well, the climate had a little something to say about that. My soda culture took 24 hours to brew. Not 3-7 days. Maybe my mother was particularly alive, maybe it was the heat (its been about 26°C here), who knows…

But it worked – and FAST.

I received an email at work yesterday afternoon with the following photo attached:

The text of the email from my husband was "I caught it just in time."
This process was supposed to take days, not hours. The thing was alive on our counter top and was demanding attention.

The recipe, after making the mother, is below. It's a "flexible" recipe as quantities are subject to changing depending on the fruit – or herbs/spices – used, your desired level of sweetness, etc.

These were "hard" from the pressure just after 1 night.
Cherry Soda
4 L Spring water
5-6 cups fruit (your choice) – I used cherries
juice of a lemon (optional)
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 cup ginger soda mother
1 knee-high panty hose
1 gallon jug (or better yet, a carboy)

Wash and clean the fruit. Add it to a large stock pot with 2 litres of the water and the sugar. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Taste to see if it's "fruity" enough. If not, add more fruit and simmer a while longer. If not sweet enough add more sugar. You need to be happy with the flavour of this mixture. Then add the lemon juice and the mother.

Mix well and pour into the "fermenting" container. Fill the rest of the jar with water, leaving some space at the top.

Place the pantyhose over the mouth to keep out flies, etc, and let sit. The mixture has to breathe. It's a living organism.

The next step is supposed to take 3-7 days. My experience took 24 hours. Let the mixture ferment, stirring at least twice a day for several days. The shorter time yields sweeter soda, longer more "robust" flavour. 

What happens is the sugar is converted to healthful lactobacillus, like in yogurt. Other elements in the juice are also converted and some are even made more easily digestible (or bio-available) by the process.

Taste to see how it's doing from time to time. When you're happy, bottle it. Let the bottled soda sit on the counter at least overnight. The bottles will get hard as they pressurize from the carbonization.

To slow the process down, put in a cool room, or refrigerate. You'll want to chill it anyway to drink it, and your homemade soda should be consumed within 1 month.

This was my carbonization after only 24 hours.
More than enough for bottling success.
I found PET plastic bottles (recyclable) at a local wine store for $15.99 for 24. Not too bad. My yield was 6-3/4 bottles.

I would definitely recommend a carboy as opposed to a 4 L glass Mason jar. The 4 L jug didn't have enough room when the thing started growing.

I still have mother leftover and I have an itch to make sarsaparilla, or similar, so I may go looking for a larger jar right away.

Never allow the mother or soda to age in metal. The acid will react "unfavourably" with the container.

Do this with your kids this summer
This worked like gangbusters. It would be a wonderful project to do with kids in the summer when they're home. It's absolutely amazing what you can make at home when you put your mind to it.

A word of caution. If not "tended" bottles can explode and depending on your success at carbonization you may get some fizzing up and over your bottles when you open them to drink, so beware.

I have also heard that *some* of the sugars may actually get converted to alcohol, so maybe watch it if serving to minors. I understand from what I have read that's it's pretty easy to tell if you've made booze. You can smell it.

Give this a try. It was a whole lot of fun!!


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share it using any of the links below. Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?

No comments:

Post a Comment