Let’s Make Fermented Blackberry Soda!

Fermented fruit sodas are so fun to make, simple, and delicious.  I am working through my freezer right now– it needs to be defrosted, so I am using up the remaining bounty from last summer’s foraging walks.  The blackberries we gathered have a lot of flavor, but are really not very sweet– so turning them into fermented blackberry soda is a great option.  You can use this method for any fruit, really, and it’s very similar to my method for making fermented rhubarb & honey soda.
How to Make Fermented Blackberry Soda  This method is very adaptable.  There is a reason I don’t give exact measurements– you don’t need them!  But I will offer some guiding principles.

How to Make Fermented Blackberry Soda

What You’ll Need:

  • Blackberries– either fresh or frozen (I used about 5 cups)
  • Raw, local honey (or at least raw– you can order it here if you need to) or sugar– brown or sucanat would be nice
  • Some kind of culture– you can use sauerkraut juice or whey from strained yogurt– you only need a tablespoon or two
  • a demijohn, an airlock, a funnel and swing-top bottles.

What to Do:

  1. Put the blackberries into a pot, and cover with water.  I used about a liter of water.  Bring to a simmer.
  2. Simmer for about 30 minutes over low heat, then cool.  I have left mine overnight before, but you don’t need to.
  3. Strain out the blackberries.  To extract more flavor, you can blend them up first– it will just take longer to strain.
  4. Add the honey or sugar and stir until dissolved.  I used about 3/4 cup, which made it very, very sweet.  Keep in mind that the sugars will be digested to create the fizz, so you do want to start with it much sweeter than you would like the soda to be. You can also just save this as blackberry syrup!  This is a nice way to make another batch later– you can freeze, then dilute when you want to make another batch, quickly. Dilute the syrup with water to get a good juice flavor and consistency.
  5. Pour the “juice” into a sterilized or very clean demijohn, pour in your whey or sauerkraut juice and add your airlock. (I have a small swing-top container that I used for making a smaller batch than usual.  An airlock fits in the top.  Some people have had success with putting a balloon over the top of the demijohn with a pin hole in the top to mimick an airlock.  Worth a try in a pinch!
  6. Let it sit for about three days, and taste it.  Mine fermented pretty quickly, but there are some variables– the temperature of the room, the strength of the culture you used, etc.  Taste it and let it ferment until it’s only a little sweeter than you would like it to be.
  7. Pour it into your swing-top bottles, and store in the fridge.  (The type of bottle is important, as they allow the ferment to give off some small amounts of Co2 and won’t explode.) You could leave them out at room temperature if you’d like to drink them sooner, but I usually pop them into the fridge to slow down the fermentation process.  You will want to drink them within a few weeks, or risk losing most of your Blackberry Soda to the “geyser effect.”  With this batch, I popped into the fridge as soon as I bottled it.  If you’re storing it for a while, I’d just check in now and then to see what kind of pressure is building up.  Your beverage will get drier, more tart and fizzier the longer you wait.  It will eventually develop more of an alcohol content, too, so you might want to taste it before giving it to your kids if you’ve been storing it for a while!
  8. Enjoy!
IMG_8105

You may find some pulp in the top of your fermentation vessel– you can scoop this off, or just ignore it.

We stored ours in the fridge right after bottling, and when I opened our last one four weeks later, it was not too fizzy or over-fermented. IMG_9011In the warmer months, I like to keep fermented sodas on hand. It’s a nice treat in the afternoon, and something to offer Amelia when we’re enjoying our home-brewed beers and wines.  They are so refreshing, and I can’t get over the fun of creating really fizzy drinks through some simple kitchen chemistry.  To take things one step further, you could also try making wild blackberry cider.

For more fermented beverage projects, you may want to check out: True Brews and Real Food Fermentation. IMG_9024Have you tried making your own fermented drinks at home yet?

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34 Responses to Let’s Make Fermented Blackberry Soda!

  1. Holly April 12, 2014 at 5:15 am #

    I’m excited to try your soda recipe with this year’s harvest. My blackberry bushes have just started to bud, so I have a wait ahead of me, but I will get the supplies ready in the meantime. Last year I just froze the berries and used them in galettes and smoothies. I may just have to break down and buy some berries if I find a good deal at the market.

    • ariana April 14, 2014 at 10:08 am #

      Hi Holly! Yes, I am a little impatient for the berries to come in, too. I used to buy bags of frozen berries at Trader Joe’s. These would work perfectly for this. Maybe you could try the rhubarb soda I wrote about a week or so ago, while you’re waiting.

  2. Kristi@Creative Connections for Kids April 12, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Hi Ariana,
    How much whey do you put into it? And I can get whey from the liquid in yogurt, correct? So I would just pour that liquid in??? Would love to try it this spring with strawberries. Thanks!

    • ariana April 14, 2014 at 10:10 am #

      Hi Kristi,
      A tablespoon or so of whey will do the trick. You can also use the liquid from another ferment, like if you have been making sauerkraut, or have something else that has been lactofermented. Otherwise, just put some yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter, and use the liquid that drips through. You’ll also get yogurt cheese out of the process, which is great for making dips with!

  3. Travis April 27, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    Would raw apple cider vinegar work for this? I’ve been making my own ACV for awhile, it’s essentially the same ferment as sauerkraut. s

    • The Crunchy Urbanite April 27, 2014 at 2:58 am #

      Don’t think so. ACV bacteria require lots of oxygen to flourish whereas lacto-fermenting bacteria like in sauerkraut need an anaerobic environment. Dying to try this recipe. If you try it & it works, though, let us know.

    • ariana April 27, 2014 at 7:30 am #

      Yes, The Crunchy Urbanite is right. Use some kraut juice or a little whey instead.

  4. annette McCollum April 27, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    Would Kombucha work in place of whey?

    • ariana April 27, 2014 at 7:28 am #

      Kombucha will not work– it’s a very different type of culture. I would suggest just draining some yogurt to get a tablespoon or two of whey.

  5. b April 27, 2014 at 3:08 am #

    Greetings. I love fermented stuff and excited to see this posted. I was surprised that you suggest using honey for the sugar since honey is anti-microbial. I used to brew a lot of kombucha and batches that I tried using honey, instead of other types of sugar, it got a little weird and did not ferment as fast as it should have. Love the post though, Im inspired to try making natural ginger soda again.

    • ariana April 27, 2014 at 7:29 am #

      Hi B– you are right that honey does not work at all with kombucha! But it does work just fine for lacto-fermentation. I love ginger soda… I need to make some!

  6. Vicki H April 27, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    I’m a newbie to fermentation, but want to try. Was wondering if fermented berry drinks are good for you like Kombucha is?(probiotics)

    • ariana May 5, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

      Hi Vicky,
      Yes! Probiotic drinks like this one are very good for you. The only caveat is how you handle sugar, even in honey form– if you are sensitive, I would just ferment longer so the soda is more dry. Otherwise, it’s a great way to get more probiotics into your life!

  7. Mike Pass April 27, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    Just curious. To keep it from over fermenting, could you add potassium sorbate or something similar to halt the fermentation? Also, Could one use something like champagne yeast for the culture?

    • ariana May 6, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      Hi Mike,
      I have never added anything to stop the fermentation with. I have wondered about this myself, though– it would be nice to figure out a way to get it just right and then store it. I think champagne yeast would produce a different beverage– but probably a good one!

  8. Tim May 2, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    You can also use water kefir. That is how I do it. I add more sugar to the first ferment and then do a second ferment in a swing top bottle.

  9. Randy May 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Will champaigne yeast work instead of whey? Have used to make different fruit wines with.

    • ariana May 6, 2014 at 9:04 am #

      Hi Randy, I think you’d end up with a sparkling blackberry wine– which would be nice, but definitely a different product than a soda!

  10. Joanne Mitchell May 3, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    I was going to ask if I could use kombucha but then I saw that it was already addressed. I just made a batch of blackberry kombucha this morning. My daughter’s name is Amelia, too, only she’s old enough to drink alcohol. But she doesn’t, so she’d probably love this version!

    • ariana May 6, 2014 at 9:04 am #

      All the sweetest girls are named Amelia! :)

  11. Marsha R. Sumal May 3, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    Can’t seem to register for emails!

    • ariana May 6, 2014 at 9:05 am #

      Thanks for letting me know, Marsha– I’ll look into it. In the meantime, I’ll sign you up myself– you just need to confirm in the follow-up email you’ll receive.

  12. Mamatart May 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    OK…so can you use water kefir? Or Kefir crystals? I saw that you cannot use Kombucha…and I guess I can use yogurt, but I have a TON of water kefir crystals!

    • ariana June 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      This can be made with water kefir, but it’s a different process. If you are well-versed in making water kefir, then go ahead and use this as your “juice” and carry on as usual. I have used water kefir, but not enough to confidently give instructions on it.

  13. Pam Bachman May 9, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    Guess I totally missed something… How much water? Or, what is the actual yield from this amount of ‘syrup?’ I very much want to make this, but am totally lost after ‘dilute with water and add to demijohn.’ More specific guidance would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

    • ariana June 24, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

      Hi Pam, this is a very flexible recipe that will require you to taste and adjust. It varies according to the amount of berries you are using. Use the syrup and dilute to taste, so that it’s a juice a bit sweeter than you want it– the sugars will be metabolized into CO2 bubbles. It’s not an exact recipe because there are a lot of variables.

  14. Christina Manuka June 26, 2014 at 3:49 am #

    I am a little confused too. This is my first (actually second because I have made sauerkraut) go at lacto- fermenting and not even sure what that means… but plan to learn more. Is this a recipe for a ‘syrup’ that needs to be diluted (if so into what?) or is this recipe ready to just pour into bottles and put into cooling once the fermenting is to satisfaction? Thanks so much!! :)

  15. Ivan Lucas September 2, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

    I’m wondering if you got the sugar quantity right? I tried it with three-quarters of a cup, and the mixture really wasn’t very sweet at all. So I increased it to a little over 2 cups full, which seemed about right to me. Did you mean ‘3/4′ or ‘3 or 4’?

    • ariana September 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      Hi Ivan,
      I did use 3/4, but I like a really dry soda– so it may be just a matter of taste. It also depends on how much liquid boiled out when you cooked the blackberries, and how sweet they were to start with. Adding more sugar until it’s sweet to you is perfect– this recipe is meant to be adjusted exactly like that, to taste.

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