This article contains affiliate links; as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you to Chelsea Green Publishing for providing a copy of the book that influenced this post: The Wildcrafting Brewer: Creating Unique Drinks and Boozy Concoctions from Nature’s Ingredients by Pascal Baudar.
There is something pretty amazing about creating a cocktail with ingredients from your own homestead. Whether it’s a mojito or a creative basil martini, the idea that you can make something with fresh grown ingredients and no artificial muck has changed my opinion of what makes a good cocktail.
The same goes for lemonade and, in our more recent experiments, soda.
You won’t find mass market soda in our house – the amount corn syrup and caffeine packed into one soda bottle is enough to turn any healthy child into a wild creature, and those are not ingredients we want to put into our bodies.
But homemade soda made with fresh fruit and aromatic herbs? Now that’s something we can get behind. Our adventure into making homemade soda started by combining our homemade grape juice with seltzer from our soda stream, but when I received a copy of The Wildcrafting Brewer by Pascal Baudar I was entranced with the photos of beverages infused with wild berries, herbs, and citrus.
The best part? We could use our own honey to make soda instead of using processed sugar! I was sold.
Here are three methods for making homemade honey soda that progress from easiest to most complicated in their ingredients and process. This recipe is for a simple honey soda with lemon and mint, but you can play with your citrus and herbs or try berries or other additions – Baudar’s book will help you discover all sorts of wild ingredients that have interesting potential.
Honey Soda Method 1: Simple Syrup + Seltzer
This is the method that got us started and is the easiest way to pour yourself a nice homemade soda to drink right away. It relies on either a bottle of plain store-bought seltzer or (our preference) fresh seltzer made in a homemade seltzer machine like a Soda Stream. I recommend making individual glasses of soda to each person’s liking; the simple syrup can be saved for a week or two in the fridge to use over time.
Ingredients: (one batch of simple syrup for 4 glasses of soda)
1 cup Water
1/4 cup Honey
2-3 Sprigs Mint
1cup Lemon Juice (1/4 cup per glass of soda)
First, make your Honey-Mint Simple Syrup: mix ¼ cup honey with 1 cup water and 2-3 sprigs of mint in a medium-sized pot. Heat at medium-high until lightly simmering, then reduce heat to low and allow the syrup to cook for about 15 minutes to fully melt the honey and infuse the mint flavor. Remove the mint leaves and pour your syrup directly into beverages or into a canning jar to save for future use.
Then, make your Honey-Lemon-Mint Soda: to make soda, mix ¼ cup simple syrup, ¼ cup lemon juice and about 1 cup seltzer (you can play with these quantities if you want your soda more or less sweet). Serve over ice with a fresh mint garnish to enhance the mint flavor, or a slice of lemon for a more citrusy effect.
Honey Soda Method 2: No-Fermentation Soda (Citric Acid + Baking Soda)
This recipe comes from Baudar’s book and was a great place for me to dip my toes into the more complex homemade soda-making methods (this being the simplest version). Baudar says that he found this method among his research of 19th century pharmacist’s methods. You simply combine an acid with a bit of baking soda and create a fizzy drink that will last a day or two in a closed bottle (think grade school volcano experiments on a smaller scale). Start by making your soda in a recycled plastic soda bottle to avoid over-pressurizing a glass container.
While the recipe above is really something you make on the spot to drink right away, this one can be placed in the refrigerator for the next day and gives you an idea of what it will feel like when a soda bottle is pressurized. Don’t leave it too much longer that a day; your mint leaves will start to leave a bitter taste in the soda and the carbonation starts to die down.
Ingredients (makes one glass of soda)
2 Tablepoons Honey
Juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon citric acid
1/2 teaspooon baking soda
Mix 2 cups water with 2 Tablespoons honey, lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon citric acid. Pour this liquid into your recycled soda bottle and add a sprig of mint leaves. Then, using a funnel, pour in your baking soda very quickly and close the lid before anything gushes over. You should see a bunch of bubbles. Let your soda sit for anywhere from a few hours to a day, then enjoy!
Honey Soda Method 3: Fermented Cold-Infused Wild Soda
(using Champagne Yeast)
Full disclosure – I am still working on getting this method right. I have been practicing with sugar so as to avoid using too much honey in recipes that don’t turn out just right, but I’m getting close!
This method uses champagne yeast to make a quick soda that will be ready after 2 days. In his book, Baudar refers to it as “cold infused wild soda” meaning that the ingredients are not boiled and are collected from the wild. He also calls them “hike sodas” because you can capture the essence of a certain place you’ve been by fermenting them into a wild soda.
When fermenting soda, it is important to use water that does not contain chlorine (that will stop the fermentation process), so you’ll probably need to buy or source water for this type of soda if your water supply is chlorinated. This recipe also uses champagne yeast, which can be purchased at a brewing supply company or online (keep refrigerated).
Ingredients (makes 1 quart of soda)
3-4 sprigs mint
1/2 cup honey (up to)
Place your herbal ingredients or aromatics into a jar (I use a mason jar). For consistency’s sake, I focused on the same lemon-mint honey soda as in the other methods. I sliced one lemon and squeezed some of it into the jar with about 3-4 sprigs of mint. Then, add your water (fill the jar about ¾ of the way) and about ¼ - ½ cup honey. You can vary the amount of sugar slightly, but if you put in too little your yeast will not have enough work with. Then, add yeast – a package of champagne yeast will do up to 5 gallons of wine, so I try to estimate about 1/20-1/10th of the package – basically a good sprinkle. But you may find yourself playing with this to see what works.
Place a paper towel on top of the jar and slide the ring over the paper towel (this allows the bubbles to form without too much added pressure).
After 24 hours, you should see some good bubbling in your jar. If you don’t, you may be tempted to leave it longer, but I have found that the aromatics (especially the mint) start to get a little rancid if you leave them too long, so I don’t advise waiting longer than about 24 hours. Alternatively, you might see a lot of bubbling sooner and its ok to move to the next step.
Strain your liquid into a recycled soda bottle and seal and leave out on the counter for another 24 hours. At this point, the bottle should be fairly pressurized. Place the bottle in the fridge to stop the fermentation process. Once cool, serve over ice and enjoy! As mentioned previously, you’ll probably want to drink this soda within a day or two of placing it in the fridge.
I’d love to hear if you try these recipes and what you think!