Naturally Wild & Fizzy Sodas

Community agroforester & perennial crop farmer Kaitie Adams walks us through making naturally fizzy drinks using fruits that be grown here in Central Illinois! Based in Central Illinois, Kaitie leads the Savanna Institute Illinois Demonstration Farm program and helps build community through agroforesty education across the state and beyond. In addition to planting trees, talking about pawpaws, and teaching community classes, she also runs Red Crib Acres, a small apple orchard on rented land, with her husband John Williams.

 

These recipes begin with making a Ginger Bug which acts as the "hub of activity" for fermented, naturally fizzy drinks such as root beer, ginger beer, fruit soda, and other tonics. The ginger bug is simple to make and easy to keep "alive" and on-hand for delicious, probiotic drinks throughout the summer!

 

Also included is a recipe for a fruit soda using the ginger bug, as well as another variation using Champagne Yeast in place of the ginger bug. The refreshing soda can be made in dozens of different ways. Change up with fruit and herbs with each season and experiment with different starters to find what you like best!

Ginger Bug

Prep Time

10 minutes

Ferment Time

6 days

 

To Get the Ginger Bug Started: Day 1

  • 2 cups water (filtered or spring - chlorinated water can hinder the fermentation process)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (any sugar works, but honey or maple syrup ferments a little slower)
  • 1 ounce fresh ginger, diced
  1. Warm the water in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir in the sugar until it dissolves fully.
  2. Cool the sugar water to room temperature.
  3. Drop the ginger into a pint-sized jar, and then cover it with the sugar water. Seal the jar, and let it culture at room temperature for one day.

To Feed the Bug: Days 2-6 (ish)

  • 5 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 ounces fresh ginger, diced
  1. The next day, and each day for 5 days, stir 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 ounce ginger into the jar, and then close the jar tightly.
  2. Between 3 and 5 days, you should start to see bubbles forming, and your bug should smell yeasty and gingery.
  3. When you see bubbles, your bug is ready to use.

To Use the Bug

  • 8 cups fruit juice or sweetened herbal tea
  1. To use the bug, strain 1/2 cup of the liquid and mix it with 7 1/2 cups liquid such as fruit juice or sweetened herbal tea.
  2. Bottle and ferment for up to 3 days.

To Store the Bug

  1. You can put your Ginger Bug to "sleep" by putting it in the fridge (this slows down the fermentation process).
  2. To wake up, just bring it out of the fridge and start feeding again. Your ginger bug is alive!
  3. If it's out of the fride, it needs to be fed daily.

 

Fruit Soda with the Ginger Bug

Prep Time

20 minutes, plus cooling

Ferment Time

1-5 days

Equipment

Mesh strainer

Plastic bottles

Funnel

 

  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined cane sugar (or another sweetener)
  • 3 cups fresh fruit
  • 1/2 cup ginger bug
  • 1 bundle of fresh herbs
  1. Warm the berries, sugar and water together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar fully dissolves.
  2. Turn off the heat, smash up the berries, add your herbs, and allow the soda base to cool to room temperature.
  3. Strain the soda base into a pitcher, discarding (aka eating) the fruit. Stir in the strained ginger bug.
  4. Put your soda base into plastic bottles, allowing 1 to 2 inches of headspace.
  5. Seal the bottles, and allow them to ferment at room temprature, out of sunlight, for 1-5 days.

They will ferment faster in a warm spot and slower in a cool spot. Transfer to the fridge or open to enjoy with ice when the carbonation fits your taste. When the bottle is rock hard, it's at max bubbles capacity. So drink it or fridge it before it explodes!

 

Fruit Soda with Champagne Yeast

Prep Time

20 minutes, plus cooling

Ferment Time

1-5 days

Equipment

Mesh strainer

Plastic bottles

Funnel

  • 3 cups fruit
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or lime juice (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup water, plus more to fill bottle
  • 1/3 cup unrefined cane sugar (or another sweetener, plus more to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon champagne yeast
  • 1 bundle of fresh herbs
  1. Warm the berries, sugar and water together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar fully dissolves.
  2. Turn off the heat, add your herbs, and allow the soda base to cool to room temperature.
  3. Strain the soda base into a pitcher, discarding (aka eating) the fruit.
  4. Put your soda base into plastic bottles, allowing 1 to 2 inches of headspace. If you don't have enough liquid, you can add some water.
  5. Add the yeast. Screw the top on the bottle and give it a good shake to dissolve the yeast. Seal the bottles, and allow them to ferment at room temperature, out of sunlight, for 1-5 days.

They will ferment faster in a warm spot and slower in a cool spot. Transfer to the fridge or open to enjoy with ice when the carbonation fits your taste. When the bottle is rock hard, it's at max bubbles capacity. So drink it or fridge it before it explodes!