Once upon a time I had big plans to attempt this bubbly fermented ginger and calendula beverage but didn’t make it very far in the process before becoming sidetracked. I’ve been on a fermentation kick lately so I thought I’d try it again and I’m pleased to announce it worked out great! The recipe was given to me by my coworker, friend and superhero, Erica ❤
Ginger Calendula Fermented Soda
(Recipe is for 4L) Start by making a ginger bug (recipe below!) When ready – 5 to 7 days – strain 1/2 cup liquid and set aside. For the tea: 8 cups water to 2 cups sugar. Boil, add 6″ of grated ginger. Simmer a bit then remove from heat. Squeeze and throw a few whole lemons in pot and add 2 cups of dried calendula flowers (I have one ounce bundles of calendula in my Etsy shop which is enough for one batch of this soda.) Stir the mixture for a few minutes then strain the liquid. Add 8 cups cold water and let cool to room temperature. Ensure it is at room temperature (don’t rush!) then add the starter liquid from the ginger bug. Cover the jar with a cloth and let sit on your counter for a few days to ferment. Stir it once daily to prevent mold. Taste to determine when ready. Similar to kombucha, the longer it sits the more sugar is consumed by the culture and the more tart and vinegary the flavour will be. I like things on the sweeter side so after a 3 or 4 days I was happy with the taste and moved it to some swingtop bottles.
Let the bottles sit on the counter for a day or so to build up carbonation. I made sure to burp the bottles once daily because it was really bubbly to start with and I didn’t want an explosion.
2 cups de-chlorinated water (if you don’t have filtered water at your fingertips you can leave a bowl of tap water out overnight and the chlorine dissipates)
2-3 tablespoons grated ginger
2-3 tablespoons sugar
Mix the water, ginger and sugar into a jar and cover with a cloth or coffee filter and leave out on your counter. Every day add 1 tsp of grated ginger and 1 tsp of sugar and stir with a non-metal spoon. After a few days the mixture will begin to bubble as the beneficial bacteria eat the sugar. After 5 to 7 days it is ready to go! You can strain off 1/4 – 1/2 cup liquid, replacing it with equal parts unfiltered water, then continue to feed the bug daily to keep it going. If you would like to “rest” your bug, place it in the fridge and feed it just once a week. To “reactivate” it, put back on the counter and continue to feed daily.
We tried this a long while ago and didn’t think the bug was working because after the initial rush of bubbles, it went flat. We tried restarting a few times and each time the result was the same. This time it once again started strong then appeared flat but I decided to use it anyways to see what happened and I’m glad I did because it definitely worked. So if your bug doesn’t look super bubbly don’t toss it because it may still be fine! After filtering out the liquid required for the calendula ferment I replaced it with an equal amount of fresh water and fed it the same tsp of sugar and ginger and it started to be really bubbly. Pretty cool.
After about a day the top looked like this. After another 4 or 5 days I bottled it. The colour lightened a bit and the taste is tart, sort of like a grapefruit soda. If you don’t want to let your soda turn too tart you don’t actually need to leave it to ferment in a large vessel, you can transfer your fruit juice or tea directly to a swing top bottle with some liquid from the ginger bug, seal the lid and let it carbonate on the counter for a few days (remember to burp so they don’t explode!) The options are pretty limitless once you get the ginger bug going, you can make a natural soda out of lots of different types of drink!
Natural carbonation is just about the coolest thing ever, I have decided. I’ve always wondered how the bubbles got into carbonated drinks, and while this method may not be the same as say Coca Cola (who knows what they do to that chemical sludge) but it delivers the same result.
Do you have a favourite natural soda recipe?