At this time of year, there are lots of parties. Seems like the Dark Time calls for those gatherings of kin, not to dance in the sunshine, but to sit together, share food and drink, reaffirm our bonds of family, blood- and otherwise. Folks like to drink fermented beverages at this time, too, home-brewed or brewed in huge vats; it’s about ‘spirits’ in liquid form.
But some of us don’t go for alcohol. By necessity or choice, we avoid intoxicants, which limits our ‘party’ choices in beverages. Yes, there are some interesting pre-made options out there, but we’re all into DIY so let’s do it ourselves!
There is big magick in fermentation. It’s a partnership between the earth that grows things and the hands that make things. We give to the Spirits offerings that are harder to come by without human intervention, that show effort on our part. Which brings us to my new favorite trick: Fermented Sodas!
I’d had a big bag of frozen blackberries we picked during the Summer. You know, when the adventure is more important than the result and you end up with way more fruit than you can use right away? It was like that. I found 4 pounds of berries in the chest freezer and was feeling a hankering to do something with that delicious mess. I made one batch of soda, which came out okay, but there was clearly room for improvement. And a need for a LARGER QUANTITY. So I finagled the recipe and came up with this.
So here’s how I did it:
2 x 1 gallon jars
16 or so swing-top bottles (I’ve used old root beer bottles, but I like the clear ones better, which are harder to get folks to give you when they’re done with them 🙂 )
2 x 4 lb bags of frozen berries (This time, I used a blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry mix from Costco, but it’s better if you can use your own hand-picked!)2 c. sugar (You could use any type of sweetener here, since it’s a lactobacillic ferment, honey won’t adversely affect it)
1/2 c. whey from yogurt (put the yogurt in a cheesecloth in a colander over a bowl and let it drain. The yogurt gets thicker as the whey comes out. Hey! Bonus!)
What ya do
Clean the jars and bottles really really well and sanitize with any product used for brewing. I use this stuff.
Dump the berries in a pot that holds at least 2 gallons.
Add water to cover.
Let ’em simmer for a while, until they basically disintegrate. I left mine for hours because I was doing other things.
Let the mixture cool, then strain out all the berry goop.
Add sugar to taste (make it a bit sweeter than ya like, as the sugar will be eaten by the bugs (aka “bacteria”)).
Add water til it’s a good texture. My ideal was for it all to fit in those 2 jars and luckily that amount of liquid tasted great!
Stir in the whey.
Bottle it up in the gallon jars and slap that airlock top on ’em.
Keep in a cool-ish place, somewhere around 68 deg or so.
After about 3 days, you will see bubbles forming on the surface of the juice. When that happens, bottle it up ASAP into the 16 oz bottles.
I will say that this recipe will most likely contain trace amounts of alcohol. If you are particularly sensitive for whatever reason, this might not be a good project for you.
*In case I haven’t said it before, we have the very best homestead supply store in the world here in Ben Lomond, CA: Mountain Feed and Farm Supply
EDIT: added “Add the whey” in the proper place 🙂