We caught up with organic home grower and mum Cass McCarthy who has shared an incredible Strawberry Soda recipe. This one is perfect for adults and kids alike!
Springtime is well and truly upon us, and as the days get longer and warmer as we edge ever closer to summer, we find ourselves spending much more time outdoors. After a morning of gardening under the hot sun, I find that nothing quenches my thirst more than an ice-cold soda. I’m not talking about the sugar laden soft drinks you find at the supermarket, I’m talking about the real deal. Naturally fizzy, fermented soda. It is incredibly refreshing, surprisingly simple to make and happens to be bursting with probiotics.
How sweet and how fizzy you make the soda is entirely up to you. The good bacteria from the whey will begin to feed on the sugars in the honey and overtime will make the soda less sweet. If you prefer a mostly dry and slightly sour soda like I do, follow my method or leave it to ferment for an extra day or so depending on how it tastes. On the flip side, If you prefer a sweet soda then I recommend reducing the fermentation time by a day or two. As with all ferments, the temperature in your kitchen plays a huge role in how fast it will ferment, so keep that in mind also.
Carbonation occurs when the bacteria produce carbon dioxide during the fermentation process. When the soda is bottled and there is nowhere for the carbon dioxide to go it will become fizzy. Both the strength of the bacteria and the amount of time it is left to carbonate will have an effect on how fizzy it becomes. With so many variables, prepare for anything ranging from a slightly effervescent beverage to an overflowing fizz. That’s the beauty of wild fermentation!
This soda is by far my favourite way to utilise strawberry tops before tossing them into the compost. Not only do they infuse the soda with a subtle strawberry flavour, they turn it the most beautiful shade of pink. This recipe is so flexible and one that can be adapted throughout the year depending on what fruit is in season; be it apple or pineapple cores, stone fruit or mango seeds. If you have no fruit you can always leave it plain and make a simple lime or lemonade.
In regards to whey, I save it from my full-fat cultured Greek yoghurt each week. You know the liquid that pools in the yoghurt tub after you’ve had a few spoonfuls? That’s the stuff. It is pure magic. Save it and use it to inoculate and fast track your ferments or add it to smoothies for additional protein. If you can’t get enough from your tub then look at my notes on how to strain yoghurt, along with a bonus recipe for turning it into fresh labneh.
Probiotic Strawberry Soda
3 cups filtered water
½ cup raw honey
½ cup fresh lemon or lime juice
¼ fresh whey*
1 punnets worth of clean strawberry tops
- Put the water into a small saucepan and place over low heat. Heat the water so that it is just warm enough to dissolve the honey (about as warm as you would fill a bath with). Pour in the honey and whisk it thoroughly until it completely dissolves.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the fresh lemon juice and whey. Pour the soda into a clean 1L glass jar, add the strawberry tops and stir to combine. Secure the jar with a lid and leave it on the counter for 2 days.
- Strain the pink soda into a jug and use a funnel to pour it into a flip-top or narrow-neck bottle. Ensure the bottles are well sealed and leave it to ferment for a minimum of 2-4 days. Check the soda after 2 days and refrigerate it when you are happy with how sour and fizzy it is.
- Best served chilled over ice after a day in the sun. Add a cheeky splash of gin or vodka for a refreshing cocktail.
To collect whey and make labneh:
- Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth and place it over a bowl to collect the whey.
- Add plain, full-fat Greek yoghurt to the lined sieve, fold the corners of the cloth into the centre to cover the yoghurt and place a small place over the top to weigh it down.
- Leave in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Store the strained yoghurt, or labneh, in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I like to roll it into balls and place them in a jar with a few sprigs of fresh herbs, chilli and good quality extra virgin olive oil. It will keep in the fridge this way for weeks and it makes a pretty impressive homemade gift!
- Add the whey to probiotic sodas, salad dressings, fermented vegetables or smoothies.