Do you have elderflowers blooming in your neighborhood? They are everywhere here, and I love their unique scent– a little bit lemony, kind of peach, with just a hint of banana… And so very pretty. We have tons of elder trees all around us, and so we have gone picking twice already. The first haul was on the small side, so I decided to try a batch of lacto-fermented soda with those blossoms. It turned out really wonderfully, so now I will share how to make your own. This is super easy, and anyone can do it, I promise!
So, the fun part is to take some time gathering elderflowers. Few things are more enjoyable and relaxing than gathering flowers or other edibles outdoors. Never leave an area bare– take some gently, and move on to another spot to find more.
We gathered our elderflowers in the same place we went for the berries last year, used to make a very successful Elderberry Wine. This area is a short walk from home, and such a luxury to me! As the trees were only just beginning to bloom we came home with a pretty small pile, but it was enough for a solid batch of soda.
What You’ll Need:
A bunch of elderflowers, thickest stems removed. We probably had 6 fluffy cups worth.
Filtered or fresh water. I used about 1/2 a gallon. This is fairly flexible.
Sugar, local raw honey (if you don’t have a good source, you can order it online here,) or evaporated cane juice. We used part local honey and part evaporated cane juice, about a total of 1/2 cup.
Whey. You can get this by just draining some off of your yogurt. I used 1/4 cup.
Here is how to make it.
1. Put your flowers in a large bowl, and give them a very quick rinse.
2. Heat some water to boiling, and pour it over your flowers, enough to cover them completely. Cover them with a dishtowel and leave to steep for 24 hours or up to 48 hours.
3. Strain out the flowers, so you have a nice elderflower tea.
4. Add the juice of one lemon into your tea, and add sweetener. I added some local honey and then some raw sugar crystals. You want it sweet, but nothing crazy. Keep in mind that the sugars here will be digested to make the fizz you’re after, so you want it a bit sweeter than your end product. We like our drinks to be barely-sweet, so this is very individual.
5. Pour all of this liquid into a glass container or demijohn, and add a couple tablespoons of whey. Cover loosely, and put it in your cupboard.
6. Wait. Taste. Wait. I made one small batch and one larger, and the small one fermented in one week, while the larger one took two. When it’s a barely sweeter than you want your final product, pour the soda into swing-top (grolsch-style) bottles and let it sit for another day or two, to develop some good fizz. You must use this kind of bottle– it could explode otherwise.
Be careful when you open it! Ours got super fizzy, and required some controlled gas release, basically opening it a tiny bit, letting it bubble up, and closing again… It’s incredibly gratifying to produce that kind of carbonation naturally, just using sugar and whey! Keep these bottles in the refrigerator, and keep in mind that the fermentation process will continue– so don’t make more than you can drink in a week– it’s easy to start another batch. If you want to take advantage of the elderflower season, you could steep the blossoms and freeze the tea, thawing it for a new batch of soda when you’re ready. I haven’t tried drying them and making a tea that way, but that is also worth a shot!
And there you have it! This method can be adapted for so many different kinds of drinks. You can also save a little of your soda to use to culture your next batch. Right now I am making a Rhubarb Soda with Mint. A lot of the natural soda recipes out there require special cultures, but this one is so easy and accessible. I hope you’ll try it!
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