Healthy sodas? Get outta here! Actually, scratch that – just keep reading today’s guest blogger, Alexis Goertz, for some recipes to try!
Do healthy soda pops actually exist? The answer is yes, and they are easier to make than you think. Let me introduce you to Homemade Probiotic Ginger Sodas.
Probiotics soda pops are an easy and fun way to get started with fermenting your own food and drinks at home. They are so simple to make, don’t require exotic ingredients or complicated equipment, and offer countless ways to experiment with your favorite flavors. They are great for kids and a perfect way to incorporate probiotics in your diet on a daily basis.
Contrary to conventional soda pops, which are sugar-bombs full of chemicals with no nutritional value, homemade probiotics soda pops come with less sugar, are full of minerals, vitamins and a healthy dose of beneficial bacteria that your gut flora will thank you for.
How to make Probiotic Ginger Soda
First, we have to make a Ginger “Bug”, a simple starter culture made from ginger, sugar and water. The natural yeasts on the skin of the ginger and in the air will feed on the sugars introduced, start the fermentation process, and enable the growth of beneficial bacteria. This is called “wild” fermentation.
Sounds complicated? It couldn’t be simpler. If you’re a visual learner, you can check out this step-by-step ginger bug video here as well (ginger-bug starts at 15:40).
This is what you need to get started:
- Organic Ginger (non-organic Ginger usually undergoes irradiation which kills the natural yeast and bacteria that we need for our wild ferment. Organic Ginger is your best bet here)
- Sugar (white/ brown, palm sugar, coconut sugar are fine. No honey because it has antibacterial qualities)
- Dechlorinated Water (If your tap water is chlorinated, leave it on the counter for 24 hours in an open container to de-chlorinate, or to be 100% sure, boil and cool the water)
- A plastic bottle with a cap (Yes plastic, please don’t use glass here as pressure can build up quickly and explosions are possible!)
- Optional Ingredients to flavor and spice it up: Lemon, peaches, mint, cardamom, black pepper, dried mango slices… get creative!
- Cut or grate the ginger (with skin) and put it in the jar.
- Add an equal amount of sugar to the jar.
- Add water so the jar is filled about ?. Shake and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Don`t put the cap on yet – just put a cloth on with an elastic band so it can breath and interact with all those other yeasts floating around in the air. Don’t expose it to direct sunlight, as UV light is antibacterial and will kill our new probiotic friends.
- Add a teaspoon of ginger and sugar every day for the next 5 days. If your mixture is not happily bubbling by now, keep adding sugar and ginger for another 2 days.
- After 7 days your bug should be bubbly, so it`s time put into the plastic bottle (ginger chunks and all), put the cap on and let carbonation build.
Now you only need to add some new sugar every 5-7 days to keep it going. As long as carbonation is building, your starter is alive and well. Careful opening it, as a volcano of foam is very likely. How long can you keep it going? I have one that is over a year old! I just keep feeding it and using it as I need. You can exchange some of the ginger as you see it gets old and starts to break down, but don’t worry about that for the first two months.
Now that you’ve got the starter… what’s next? Time to make the end product and inoculate different juices and flavours with your ginger bug to get a SODA (i.e. bubbles!). Here you can get really creative and play around with your favorite flavors. Here are 3 of my favorite variations:
Honey Peach Soda
Although honey has antibacterial qualities, it`s okay to use it as a sweetener here, just don’t use it in the ginger bug starter. Take a 1L bottle (plastic) and slice 1-2 fresh peaches thin enough to fit in the bottle. Add 1 tablespoon of honey, and 500ml warm water. The warm water will dissolve the honey and get flavour to come out of those ripe peaches. Add around 200 ml of the ginger bug starter and let it sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. At this point you should see some carbonation building up and feel the pressure on the sides of the bottle! Refrigerate and enjoy.
Peppermint, Lemon, Ginger with Honey
In this one we can make a tea with these flavours. Boil a small handful of fresh peppermint (or one peppermint tea bag), half a lemon, half a thumb of ginger and 2 tablespoons of honey in 750ml of water to get a flavour infusion. Cool the mixture down and strain into a plastic bottle. Add 200ml of ginger bug starter, and let ferment for 12-24 hours.
Carrot Ginger Soda
Carrot juice, maybe add some beet cubes.
If you have access to a juicer or just fresh carrot juice, this is a wonderful sweet and natural drink full of carotene and vitamins. Juice enough carrots to make 750ml worth. Add 200ml of ginger bug starter and let ferment.
Optional – Add a couple red beet cubes to get a colour infusion and extra benefits from the beets!
So, are you ready to make it bubble and fizz in your kitchen?
Try it out the recipes above first and then get creative and start experimenting with flavors and ingredients you love the most.
Let me know about your results in the comments and share this article with those of your friends who need some refreshing probiotic goodness in their lives.
About the Author
Alexis Goertz is head alchemist at ediblealchemy.co, the premier online training site for DIY probiotics in the form of fermented foods and drinks. She travels the world in search of exotic bacteria cultures, gives on- and offline workshops, and loves to experiment with creative ferments. Want to learn more about fermentation? Check out her free fermentation webinar replays.