Friday, March 12, 2010

lacto fermented soda-part 1

Soda in the old fashioned sense is nothing like  the high fructose laden, fake colored and flavored, modified, preserved crap known as soda today. It was in fact  a medicinal type of drink that dates back  to drinking mineral waters. The drinking of either natural or artificial mineral water was considered a healthy practice and thus was sold in  pharmacies across the country. The pharmacists selling the water then began to add medicinal and flavorful herbs to the unflavored mineral water and soda was born. They used birch bark, dandelion, sarsaparilla, and fruit extracts. Early American pharmacies with  soda fountains became a popular part of culture. Over time, customers  wanted to take their "health" drinks home with them and a soft drink bottling industry grew from consumer demand. From there we buggered it all up and completely lost our way  as it seems we have done with most things in this country. 

Some where along the path of time, people figured out that through fermentation  carbon dioxide was produced, bubbles were born and all this could replace the mineral water that had nature given bubbles . Of course modern mechanization has changed all that but  over time some folks have kept the traditions alive and some of us are continuing to  learn them and then  passing it on to others.

As with near all things there are several variations of making lacto- fermented sodas. I do not know if one or another is any easier,  better flavored or anything else but I do know this method has worked for us and is currently the method we use to make our soda.  At some point I may run across something that is easier or that suits us better but in the mean time this  recipe works nicely.

A couple things to keep in mind before making the culture or the soda are It is definitely not a soda we are accustomed too.It smells like alcohol, but doesn't taste much of it. The lacto-fermentation process does indeed make an alcohol however it is a minuscule amount unless of course you over ferment.This is not a sweet, syrupy concoction. Though the recipe and the culture both contain fair amounts of sugar, the fermentation process eats most of it leaving you with a very mildly sweet drink.Fruit sodas ferment quickly and will turn into a wine cooler rapidly although I must admit mixed with a fruit juice they are pretty tasty.

Making the soda is a rather long drawn out ordeal. It is a simple process yet as often seems the case with most things old fashioned it takes forever to go from preparation to  edible or in this case drinkable. From start to finish this can be a two week or more process to get your first batch of soda. This is  basically a two step process. First is making the actual starter culture itself.

For those that learn better by seeing things done here are two good videos on  making your starter culture.

Starter culture
In a quart jar add
2 tbsp diced fresh ginger
2 tsp sugar
3 cups water(non chlorinated)
Stir ingredients and cover with cheese cloth and a rubber band. Sit container on counter. Each day stir the culture at least 2x. At one of two stir time, the culture must be fed. At the  desired feeding time add 2 tsp fresh diced ginger and 2 tsp sugar. Continue for one week.Culture should have a few bubbles on the top. At this point the culture can be topped and put in the fridge indefinitely.  A few days before using, pull the culture out of the fridge, measure out two tbsp of ginger throw the remaining culture away. Add  3 cups water 2 tbsp sugar and feed for a few days before making your next batch  of  soda.


  1. Well that makes sense (as to why soda fountains were orginally found in drugstores). But if I am reading this correctly you throw away all but 2TBS of the starter? I just can't bring myself to do that.

  2. after keeping it in the fridge for a month or so i do yes. It begins to get too yeasty and smells too fermented and like alcohol. The new starter is boosted with the couple tbsp of the ginger that carries the good bits of the culture.

    You can make sour dough starters n other funky stuff from the thrown out starters though

  3. Hello all! I have a question as I made an error in the lacto fermented soda process. This is my first time trying and I have just finished adding the soda culture to my syrup. Instead of making 1 gallon of one type of soda, I decided to make two 1/2 gallons of different types to see how they turn out - 1/2 gallon of blueberry syrup and 1/2 gallon of ginger beer syrup. I made the syrup last night and let it cool over night.

    This morning, in the sleepy state I was in, I accidentally added 1 cup of culture (instead of a 1/2 cup as per the halved recipe) to each 1/2 gallon mason jar! Now I am so upset because all that time and energy creating the soda culture and syrup may be for nothing. Will this ruin my soda? Should I let it sit out for less time before I bottle it? Any advice would be much appreciated!

  4. Hiya, oops! I have never done made this mistake.. i do not know how double the culture would affect the outcome, i almost think i would just make another batch of syrup and have 2 gallons of soda total in the end as i would fear the amounts os aeration in the soda the other way.. if you do attempt it your way, let me know how it turns out for you ,, so i know you didnt blow yourself up :)