Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Homemade Soda #1

The Texan and I don't drink much soda. We might order a glass to share once a month or so. But recently we've been eating lunch at a restaurant that makes its own fruit-plus-herbs soda, and we're hooked. So naturally when we found a book on the subject on our honeymoon, we snapped it up.

A couple of Christmases ago, the Texan received a Soda Stream machine as a gift, and has been making his own carbonated water for almost as long as I've known him. While I'm happy drinking still water, I appreciate the Soda Stream because it eliminates the waste of bottles, plastic or glass, of seltzer, and the carbonator tank is refillable. If there is such a thing as eco-friendly soda, this is probably the start of it.

I like weird and unexpected savory ingredients in sweet things. The Texan doesn't. So we made two batches of soda syrup: Basil for me, and ginger-lemon for him. Plus, we happened to have Mason jars we'd already repurposed in our wedding, and it's a well-known fact that soda-y things look best in vintage-y Mason jars, so we got all nostalgic as we poured.
Politely, the Texan tried one sip-- but not more-- of my basil soda. (Hey, I liked it.)

His ginger soda wasn't gingery enough, so we tossed another chunk of fresh ginger in the jar and let it infuse overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, the flavor was more intense, and the ginger flavor increased with each day. The same could be done with a slice of lemon if the flavor isn't strong enough for your taste.

We had some fresh blueberries and mint in the house, so the Texan also tried his hand at muddling the two together to add to his ginger-lemon drink. He was unimpressed: both the blueberries and mint leaves were chunky and needed to be chewed before swallowing. After swallowing, hello dental floss! I'm not ready to give up on that technique, though, so next time we will muddle, infuse, and STRAIN.

from Make Your Own Soda by Anton Nocito
Basil Syrup
2 C water
1 2/3 C granulated sugar
25 large basil leaves

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat. 
2. Add basil leaves and cover pan. Steep for 15 minutes. 
3. Strain syrup through a fine-mesh strainer and discard leaves. Can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 4 days.
4. To make basil soda, fill a tall glass with ice. Add 3 TBSP syrup, top with seltzer, and stir.

Ginger-Lemon Syrup
2 oz fresh unpeeled ginger, grated
1 C water
3/4 C granulated sugar
2 strips lemon zest

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. 
2. Add ginger and lemon zest, and remove pan from heat. Cover pan and steep for about 45 minutes. 
3. Strain syrup through a fine-mesh strainer and cool. Can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 14 days. 
4. To make ginger ale, fill a glass with ice. Add 3 TBSP ginger syrup, 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice, top with seltzer, and stir.


  1. Glad to see the Pyrex Pixie is no longer cooking for one! I am still making the World Peace cookies, and just recently sent off a batch to Kevin in Denver. Amy and I are going to try the roast chicken next time she is home. How did you make those delicious vegetables you served?

  2. Awww, how sweet to send him a box of homemade cookies! I haven't made those cookies in a while-- I should make them again soon. I'm not sure the Texan has ever tried them!
    The potatoes I made are just cut into uniform pieces, skin on, tossed with a little olive oil (or other vegetable oil), salt, pepper, paprika if you have it, and your favorite green herb, fresh or dried: rosemary, oregano, thyme, tarragon, parsley, herbes de Provence, whatever. Roast them on a rimmed cookie sheet in a SINGLE LAYER while the chicken is roasting. I usually toss them once about halfway through roasting, to redistribute the oil and spices and crisp as many edges as possible. Depending on the size of the pieces, the potatoes should take around 30-40 minutes. They are done when you can easily stick a fork all the way through them.
    The green beans are in season now, so now's a good time! Don't bother with the ones imported from Mexico in the fall or winter. You just trim the ends, cut into smaller pieces if you like (sometimes we leave them whole), and saute them in some butter. Add a bit of salt and pepper, and some chopped fresh parsley if you have it. Add some chopped pecans or almonds, and maybe 1/2 tsp of lemon zest at the end. You can also squirt a little lemon juice on it before you serve it if you like more lemon flavor. The cooking time on these is 10 minutes or less-- you don't want them to get mushy or too limp.