This summer, one of the ways I used our excess fruit was to make delicious probiotic homemade sodas using my homemade ginger bug. I made plum soda (one of my favorites!), strawberry soda, elderberry soda, ginger-apple soda, and probably others that I’m not remembering. I’m planning on trying a pomegranate soda soon, and maybe a persimmon soda (sounds weird, but I’m very curious to try it!), and probably a cranberry soda (no, I don’t grow my own cranberries, unfortunately) for the holidays.
Most recently, I’ve looked to my herb garden to find inspiration, and thought that a tarragon soda sounded promising. And indeed, it is – this soda has a refreshing, light licorice-y flavor and beautiful golden color.
I had grand plans to write up a tutorial for making a ginger bug (a VERY easy process!), but to be honest, I’ve gotten a bit lazy. Since there are countless ginger bug tutorials out there, I’ll just refer you to one of my favorites from Nourished Kitchen.
I make my sodas in 1/2 gallon batches, but the recipe could easily be cut in half to make just a quart. In addition to basic kitchenware (mason jars fall in this category, right?), you’ll also need a fine-mesh strainer (or cheesecloth), a funnel, and (if you want your soda to be fizzy), a couple of swing-top bottles for secondary fermentation (you could reuse Grolsch bottles if you buy Grolsch, or could probably reuse a screw-top glass bottle that originally held sparkling water). Do take care not to forget about your soda during secondary fermentation – if it sits too long, enough gas could build up in the bottles to cause quite a dangerous (not to mention messy) explosion! If you’re worried about the risk of explosion, a good precaution to take would be to wrap your bottles in a towel and then place them in a box or pot for secondary fermentation.
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 7 cups room-temperature dechlorinated or filtered water (to dechlorinate tap water, just let it sit out in an open container for 24 hours; the chlorine will evaporate off **edited to add: Many municipalities use chloramines instead of chlorine to disinfect water. Chloramines will not evaporate off like chlorine does, so if this is the case for your water, use filtered water!)
- 1/2 cup ginger bug
- 2 Tablespoons minced or grated ginger (about a 1.5″ piece)
- 5 sprigs (each 4-6 inches long) tarragon
- Add water and honey to a 1/2 gallon mason jar (or a ceramic or glass bowl – do not use metal, as it will react with the acids produced during fermentation), and stir with a wooden spoon to fully dissolve honey.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and give the mixture a quick stir to combine.
- Top the jar with a cloth napkin (what I usually use), tea towel, or coffee filter secured with a rubber band. Let sit to ferment at room temperature for two days.
- After two days, use a fine-mesh strainer or a couple of layers of cheesecloth to strain the ginger and tarragon out of the mixture, and pour into your swing-top bottles. Cap the bottles.
This half-gallon batch filled two bottles: a 1-liter size (about 34 fluid ounces), and a smaller 3/4 liter size (25 fluid ounces).
- Let these filled bottles go through secondary fermentation at room temperature (mind the safety precautions I discussed above!) for 1-2 days: 1 day if the room is on the warmer side (as fermentation will occur more quickly at higher temps) or if you prefer a slightly sweeter, slightly less-fizzy drink; two days if the room is on the cool side. After this period, place the bottles in the fridge.
- Once chilled, you can drink at any time! Do take caution when first opening the bottles – on occasion, I’ve lost nearly half a bottle at a time due to the excess carbonation creating a literal “soda fountain” all over my kitchen. I like to burp the bottles before opening, just in case: crack the swing-top open just slightly to release some gas, then quickly close and let settle, repeating a couple of times if necessary.