Contributing Editor Kristina Strain
It’s hot. Worse than being hot, it’s sticky, too. It’s the kind of day when you look at yourself in the mirror and find you’ve become a humid human magnet to all manner of debris: dirt, hair, dead leaves, more dirt, the cat. Almost as refreshing as a quick, cold shower is an icy beverage, sweet and bubbly and sipped on the porch. Naturally, to make such a fantasy possible, you’ll have to reach for the high-fructose corn syrup, or else pricey fruit-juice sweetened beverages, both shipped great distances in great trucks to you and your sweaty porch. Rather than support this environmental nail-biter, consider making your own natural, delicious sodas right at home.
Getting started with home soda-making is easy. The basic formula reads something like “fruit/spices + sweetener + carbonated water = soda.” Sweetener may not be needed in all cases, like if you’re using fruit juice that’s naturally supersweet, such as apple. In most cases, though, you’ll want to add a little sugar or honey. Carbonated water can be had from the grocery store, in form of club soda or seltzer (both work fine). Or else you could make your own soda water at home, using a home carbonation system, or by improvising.
1 cup sugar
1 cup sliced fresh ginger root (about 6 oz)
2 cups water
Measuring cups, a spoon, a saucepan, and a jar.
This recipe yields about two cups of syrup, enough for eight 12 oz. glasses of soda.
First, slice up enough ginger root to make one cup of slices. Add the slices to your saucepan.
Next, add one cup of sugar to the saucepan.
Add two cups of water to your saucepan, and stir.
Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes.
Set the syrup aside to cool for twenty minutes, then strain into a glass jar. Store the syrup in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To use, add 1/4 cup of syrup to three ice cubes in a 12 oz glass. Fill the glass up about 3/4 of the way with seltzer or club soda, stir, and sip. Ahhhhh.
Feel free to experiment with this recipe, substituting your sweetener of choice for the sugar, or adding fruit or other spices to the mix. Raspberry ginger soda seems like a tasty direction to try. This syrup is plenty versatile, too. Try it mixed into tea (chai, anyone?) or in fruit salad.
Bear in mind that your homemade soda creations aren’t going to taste exactly like their commercial counterparts. This ginger ale had none of the cloying sweetness of Canada Dry. It was crisper and drier, more like Italian soda. Most homemade sodas have that in common– a crispness that grocery store sodas just can’t beat. Try ’em. You’ll be smitten.