14 February 2015


If you're into canning, you'll probably run across the term "lacto-fermentation" at some point, particularly if you read a lot on the subject. I read a bit about the fermenting foods thing, then said, rather determinedly, to J., that I was not interested in trying that.

Two weeks later I was making salt-preserved Key limes.

A couple months later, right after getting home from Christmas with my new canning book in tow, I was chopping cabbage for sauerkraut.

Then I tried homemade ginger beer. Followed by a second batch. Now we're on batch three of the ginger beer, and batch one of a strawberry soda, both mixed up this evening and popped into a cupboard to mature and develop fizz for a couple of days.

What we're discovering with homemade soda is that we like the not-too-sweet taste of it. And once I figure out what I'm doing with it, I can experiment and make bubbly drinks that we can't find elsewhere. I have a number of ingredients to track down before I can make homemade root beer (and one glance at the ingredients list for "root beer extract" convinced me that it would be worth the extra effort to actually use roots to make the concentrate), but I think if the strawberry soda works out, lime soda is next on the list.

What about the alcohol content? Well, there's not much. Enough to make it fizzy, but not enough to even notice that zing that most alcoholic drinks have.* Right now I'm using instant yeast to start the fermenting process, which is easy and reliable. A lot of recipes out there use whey or one of those clumps of bacteria known as bugs (not unlike what's used in kombucha). I often have an absurd amount of whey leftover from making yogurt, so I will probably try using whey for fermenting soda at some point.

It's actually more fun and less exacting than I thought it would be, and I like the results. The next big fermenting project will probably be lacto-fermented dill pickles. Like sauerkraut, that's a longer commitment than soda, and it requires more frequent checking than soda does, too. We'll see how it goes.

*A note: As we don't have the equipment to test the alcohol content of the homemade sodas, but we do know there is at least a little there, we don't share the stuff with our toddler. Better safe than sorry.

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