Searching for a refreshing summer drink? This naturally fermented soda can be made for next to nothing. It’s easy to make, especially if you’ve got access to home grown herbs or fruit.
What is wild soda?
This effervescent drink is naturally fermented using wild yeasts in the air and plants. With a minimum amount of sugar or honey, the fermentation begins. Once bottled it releases carbon dioxide to create a fizz.
Wild soda is made mostly from herbs, fruit and flowers. some recipes even use things like plant sap and cacao nibs.
If you have access to an organic/unsprayed garden or know how to safely forage, these drinks cost next to nothing to make.
Wild soda basics
Like with all home preserving or ferments it’s important to encourage only beneficial bacteria! Don’t make this at home if you live somewhere damp or mouldy.
Always sterilise your bottles well (hot wash in the dishwasher is ok) before using.
Don’t use chlorinated tap water, as it will interfere with the fermentation. Distilled or reverse osmosis is best.
Did you know there are yeasts on your hands? When preparing your soda, clean your hand but be careful not to use antibacterial soap (you don’t want to wipe out the yeasts).
Always use organic/unsprayed produce. The ‘bloom’ on berries (for example the white dusting you see on blueberries) is actually yeast, so don’t wash it off. Sprayed fruit or herbs may inhibit fermentation.
Start small and experiment. For example, if you’ve got mint growing like crazy at the moment, gather big handfuls. Combine it with something simple, like a few slices of root ginger.
Use your imagination and what’s at hand. For inspiration check the #wildsoda hashtag on Instagram.
It doesn’t take long to make but you do need to be around to stir the mixture and bottle when you notice it’s ready. Wild soda usually takes 3 – 4 days to ferment, then another day in a bottle at room temperature before it’s ready chill and drink.
For one litre or so of soda
Gather your herbs, berries, edible flowers, break them up by hand and three quarter fill a clean 1 litre jar. Cover with non-chlorinated water, leaving a bit of space at the top of the jar.
Add 1 tablespoon of raw sugar or raw/unpasteurised honey. Give it a good stir.
Cover with a piece of cloth (muslin, a piece of clean old tea towel etc) and secure with a rubber band. Leave somewhere you’ll see it but out of direct light.
Stir three times a day. Check for some little bubbles forming at the top over the next 3 – 4 days. This may happen quickly in hot weather.
Strain through a sieve and mush any pulp to extract more flavour. Bottle in a swing top clean glass bottle (or PET plastic soft drink bottles). With all ferments, there’s a small chance that if there are any imperfections in the bottle, it could explode under pressure, so store for 24 hours in a safe space (I used my outdoor laundry).
After 24 hours, refrigerate and drink within a week or two. The day at room temperature means the CO2 builds up in the bottle to make the fizz. Too long and the bottle will eventually explode! Refrigeration stops the build up continuing.
Open in the sink with glasses at hand in cases it overflows.
I’ve been having so much fun creating wild sodas. The best so far have been:
- Lemony flavoured herbs (lemon verbena, lemon balm, kaffir lime leaves), root ginger and leatherwood honey.
What combinations do you love?