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Master Soda Recipe

Fizzy, fresh sodas can be made from literally anything, says Emma Christensen, author of True Brews. Steep ginger in sugar syrup, and you can make ginger ale. Grab some fresh fruit juice at the farmers’ market, and you’ll have a soda by morning. Add spices or herbs, mix fruits together, play with savory ingredients, try a different kind of sugar—it’s all fair game here.

Base the amount of fruit you use in this recipe on your personal preferences. Less fruit will give you a lighter-tasting soda, and more fruit will make something closer to nonalcoholic sparkling cider. All sodas need a little lemon juice for punch, but add more if your fruit lacks natural acidity. The amount of sugar you add is entirely up to you and your sweet tooth.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 4 lb. fresh or frozen fruit, or 4 to 8 cups fruit juice,
      preferably unsweetened
  • 2 to 6 Tbs. fresh lemon or lime juice (from 1 to 2 lemons or 3 to
      4 limes), plus more if needed
  • Flavoring extras, such as fresh ginger, lemon zest, cinnamon
      stick, star anise or fresh herbs
  • 1 cup water, plus more to fill the bottle
  • 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups (3 1/2 to 10 1/2 oz.) white granulated sugar,
      plus more if needed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp. dry Champagne yeast

Directions:

Remove any stems, seeds, peels or other inedible bits from the fruit and chop into bite-size pieces. Berries and smaller fruits can be kept whole. Combine the fruit with the lemon juice and any flavoring extras in a large bowl.

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar and salt, stir to dissolve and pour over the fruit. Let stand for 10 minutes to macerate the fruit or until frozen fruits are completely thawed. Remove any whole spices once the fruit is macerated. If using fruit juice, simply combine the juice with the sugar water and proceed to the bottling step.

Working in batches, puree the fruit with its liquid in a food processor or blender. Strain the puree into a bowl, collecting as much juice as possible without forcing any solids through the strainer. You can also strain the juice through a flour sack towel or cheesecloth to yield a soda with less pulp and sediment.

Pour the juice into a clean 2-liter bottle using a funnel. Top off the bottle with water, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace. Taste and add more lemon juice or sugar if desired. The extra sugar will dissolve on its own.

Add the yeast. Screw on the cap and shake the bottle to dissolve and distribute the yeast. Let the bottle sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight until carbonated, typically 12 to 48 hours. Exact fermentation time will depend on the temperature in the room; soda will carbonate quickly at warm temperatures and take longer at cooler temperatures. Check the bottle periodically; when it feels rock solid with very little give, it’s ready.

Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 weeks. Open the bottle very slowly over a sink to release the pressure gradually and avoid bubble-ups. Pour the soda through a small fine-mesh strainer when serving to remove fruit pulp and sediment, if desired. Makes about 8 cups (enough to fill a 2-liter plastic soda bottle).

Adapted from True Brews, by Emma Christensen (Ten Speed Press, 2013).