How To Make Your Own Healthy Sodas

Enjoy a good carbonated drink every once in a while? Same here, but the problem is, most conventional sodas are bad for your health. With all their artificial flavors (and colors), plus added sugars, it's best to avoid them. But what about when you really want a carbonated, sweet beverage instead of the usual fix of water? Well, you're in luck: Making homemade sodas that are healthy is surprisingly easy. You just have to have a little time, dedication, and imagination (and all the right supplies, of course). These sodas are all great for your digestive track too, because they're essentially herbal mixtures. So if you're in need of some extra probiotics, consider getting some in while sipping and chilling with these drinks. 

Base ingredients: 

These ingredients will be needed to make any of the flavors I list below. In other words, they're not optional. 

  • Non-chlorinated water
  • Fresh, frozen, or dried fruit; fruit juice; or herbal tea 
  • Honey (or agave) 
  • Culture: Whey or ginger bug (instructions for making both of these are below flavor combos) 

Flavor combos: 

Pick and choose which flavor you'd like to make. Here are a few suggestions, but also feel free to get creative and make up your own concoction.  

Strawberry Soda 

  • 6 cups fresh or frozen (or 3 cups dried) strawberries 
  • Juice from ½ lemon 
  • 5 to 6 cups water 
  • ½ to 1 cup honey (or agave) 
  • 1 cup culture (whey or ginger bug)  

Note: Simmer crushed berries in 6 cups water for 30 minutes, and then follow steps 2-7 in the directions at the bottom of this article. 

Grape Soda 

  • 1 to 2 cups organic grape juice 
  • 4 to 6 cups water 
  • ½ to 1 cup honey (or agave) 
  • 1 cup culture (whey or ginger bug)  

Note: In a half-gallon jar, mix grape juice, water, and honey (or agave) to taste. Then follow steps 2-7 in the directions at the bottom of this article. 

Ginger Ale 

  • 3 inches fresh ginger, sliced 
  • Juice from ½ lemon 
  • 5 to 6 cups water 
  • ½ to 1 cup honey (or agave) 
  • 1 cup culture (whey or ginger bug)  

Note: Simmer ginger in 6 cups water for 30 minutes, and then follow steps 2-7 in the directions at the bottom of this article. 

How to make cultures: whey and ginger bug 

Before you can begin actually making the soda, it's important to have the whey or ginger bug ready. These cultures are what make the soda, well, soda! Whey is far from vegan though, so stick to making ginger bug if you are vegan. Here's how to make each. 

Whey: 

If you have dairy animals or an artisan cheese maker nearby, whey is easy to get. If not, purchase some raw milk, pour it into a quart jar, tighten the lid, and set it on the kitchen counter. After 24-48 hours, you will notice the milk has separated. Strain the liquid through several layers of cheesecloth. The yellowish clear liquid is whey.  

Ginger Bug: 

If you're vegan, stick to making ginger bug. You will need fresh ginger root, non-chlorinated water, and white sugar. First, grate the fresh ginger until you have about 2 tablespoons. Then, pour 1 cup non-chlorinated water into a jar. Once that's done, add 2 tablespoons of white sugar and stir until dissolved. Add 2 tablespoons of grated ginger and cover loosely with the lid. Place the jar in a saucer on your counter (make sure it's out of direct sunlight though). Also, be sure to stir it several times a day. Each day, feed the ginger bug by adding 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger and 1 teaspoon of white sugar. Stir well, and after a couple of days, the ginger bug will start to get bubbly. In 3 or 4 days it should sound really active, like a soft drink. This is perfect, because now, you're ready to make soda with it! 

Directions for making your soda: 

Now that you've gotten past all that, you're finally able to make your soda of choice! Here's the process you need to follow in order to put your whey and ginger bug to good use. Just make sure you choose the right ingredients according to what flavor soda you want. 

  1. Mix 6 cups of fruit juice (this only applies if you're making grape soda and using grape juice) and water. If you're using fruit or herbs (strawberries or ginger), crush them and add whichever you need (see flavors to know how much to add) to 6 cups of water. Let this simmer for 30 minutes: It will create wort, which essentially means it has become a brew.  
  1. Now it's time to strain the wort (you can use a cheesecloth or a strainer). Dissolve honey (or agave) in strained wort, and then taste it. Adjust the flavor so it suits your taste buds. Just as a tip, it's actually easier to dissolve the honey (or agave) when the wort is still warm. If it is too weak, add it back to the pot with more fruit/herbs and steep again. If you made it with juice, add more juice. If it's too strong, add more water. If it isn't sweet enough, add more honey (or agave). On the contrary, if it's too sweet, add more water.  
  1. When you're ready, add lemon juice (if desired – based on which flavor you're going for). 
  1. Now add the strained culture (either whey or ginger bug). Stir well.  
  1. Put a lid on it, and place on the counter out of direct sunlight for 1 to 4 days. Make sure to stir it every day. When you see tiny bubbles form around the edge of the liquid, it's beginning to ferment. You may see some white patches on the surface, but that's completely normal. Make sure to taste your creation: When it no longer tastes "flat," it's time to strain it. 
  1. Strain it into (preferably glass) bottles, but make sure to leave at least 1 inch headspace before capping. Leave it on the counter for 2 to 4 days. On day two, open a bottle: If you hear the fizzy sound, that's a good sign! If by day 4 you don't hear it fizz up, place the bottles inside the oven with only the pilot light or oven light on, or cover with blankets and place over some heat for a few days. This should help it start to fizz. Just an FYI: Worts made with fruits tend to fizz more quickly. 
  1. Finally, place bottles in the refrigerator when you hear that "psssshhhtt" sound of delightful fizz. Wait until it's cold enough to your liking and drink up. It will keep in the fridge for about a month. Also, just as a final word of caution, be careful when opening the bottles: Pressure will continue to build, even in the fridge. Other than that, enjoy!

Articles published by Basmati.com are no substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider before beginning any new regimen. For more information, please visit our disclaimer page here.

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