Photos: Left - soda infused with California sagebrush and horehound.
Center - soda with lemonade berries and yarrow.
Right - soda infused with hops flowers.
While I researched old recipes for “medicinal sodas”—as made by pharmacists in the 19th century—I was amazed to find that a lot of them were actually made using an acid base and baking soda. The principle is that you can add lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid to water, then pour a bit of baking soda in the container—and voilà! The acid in the water mixes with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to create carbon dioxide gas. The generated bubbles of CO2 make the drink fizzy. If you put it in a closed container such as a bottle, this creates carbonation similar to that found in a fermented soda.
2 cups (500 ml) water
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar, or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) citric acid
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) baking soda
Aromatic herb(s) of your choice, or flavored syrup, to taste
1. Mix the water, lemon juice, sugar, and citric acid.
2. Pour the contents into a 16-ounce (500 ml) recycled plastic bottle or swing-top glass bottle, filling to the bottom of the neck.
3. Using a small funnel, pour in the baking soda and very quickly close the lid before the contents gush out the bottle (it generates a lot of bubbles). You have a couple of seconds.
4. For decoration and flavors, you can always add some tasty herbs inside the bottle and strain the contents while serving. I don’t age these sodas for very long and usually drink them within 1 or 2 days of making them. I use this method mostly for fun, as I much prefer making my soda through regular fermentation.
The pressure is pretty mild with this recipe and you can experiment a bit, but please, be careful: The combination of too much citric acid and too much baking soda can generate a lot of pressure. I also advise you to try first using recycled plastic soda bottles (you don’t want an exploding glass bottle). Be safe!
This recipe is from Pascal Baudar’s book The Wildcrafting Brewer: Creating Unique Drinks and Boozy Concoctions from Nature’s Ingredients (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018) and is reprinted with permission from the publisher.
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