Sunday, October 30, 2011

Black Cherry Limeade

     We decided to kick things off with one of our favorite sodas, cherry limeade, with a bit of a twist.
We actually tried a couple of juice-tinted seltzers first (we'll be back to them later, for a less-sweet refreshing option) but this was our first foray into a true soda syrup.
     We're both big fans of the cherry-limeades you can get at various drink places (at least, in the southwest they're very popular) but we wanted to make some at home without the artificial red #40 cherry syrup.
     Our first attempt at this recipe was good, but not quite right. Fresh cherries were not available at our local market, so we used RW Knudsen's organic tart cherry juice. There's nothing in there but cherry juice, so it fit our standards. The tart juice did not offset the lime well, plus I got a little over-zealous in my zesting of the lime, and we ended up with a bit of a bitter after-taste. Sooooo.....attempt number two.
     The only major changes were not zesting into the white pith of the lime (gimme a break, I'm a often do we zest?) and switching to RW Knudsen black cherry juice. Here are the ingredients:

-1 cup cherry juice;
-1 cup sugar;
-juice and zest of three limes;
-3 drops natural almond extract.

     The black cherry juice tastes somewhat sweet on its own, so you could experiment with less sugar, and more juice if you want to carbonate with a siphon. This recipe is meant to provide a sweet syrup that can be mixed with seltzer or diluted with cold water and carbonated.
    I zested the limes into the sauce pan, then added the sugar and juice. Heat stirring until the sugar dissolves on medium heat. Bring to simmer and continue (16 minutes in my case) until it is reduced to half its original volume. Let cool and add the lime juice and almond extract. Pass through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter (I recommend the coffee filter if you're going to put it through a siphon).
     Makes slightly more than 1 cup of syrup. Stir 1/3 cup syrup into 1 1/3 cup seltzer or cold water or add to 4 cups cold water and carbonate.
Here's the result:

     No need for anything artificial here! The recipe yielded a very tasty soda with a rich, red color with a cherry-lime aroma. The taste was a good balance of the sweet cherries and tart lime. The cherry flavor comes through nicely and the lime is not overpowering. Experiment with it on your own; some may like slightly less sugar, or more lime. Have fun with it!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Let's Make Some Soda!

     We are Tammy and James, and we're just beginning to experiment with making our own all-natural artisanal sodas at our home in Oklahoma.
     As you can see from the picture below, we are very much in love with each other, and we both are enjoying the pleasures of braces in our mid thirties.
     We got bored with just ignoring our orthodontist's instructions to not drink soda, and decided we'd take it to another level and make our own.
     We're pictured below attending a ball-game. You can't get decent soda at a stadium, even if you can get out of the stands and want to stand in line at the concessions.

     As you may guess, our profile name for our soda venture, like many things in our daily lives, was inspired by our ever-present canines. Clockwise, from bottom left are Mr. Stoops (can you guess our favorite football team?), Sissy and Popeye. They love to prowl while we're working in the kitchen.

     Neither of us had any experience making soda at home when we started this, so a little research was needed. We came across this book, 'Homemade Soda' by Andrew Schloss. A payment to Amazon and a couple of days later and we had it in our hands. It is well worth the investment if you're interested in making all-natural sodas and soda inspired concoctions at home.
     The book is ideal for beginners because Schloss started with no experience in soda-making when he set out to write the book. The result is an interesting read that takes you from no experience to comfortably making homemade soda, with some great background on soda history and science.
     It's an easy read and the recipes are designed with little required equipment. You likely have the equipment in your kitchen already if you're not a bachelor.
     He provides 200 recipes for different types of sodas and soda-based foods. The soda recipes include three different carbonation methods (when appropriate for the given recipe) offering the option to craft syrup and mix it store-bought seltzer (no special equipment needed), to carbonate with a soda siphon (buy a siphon) or carbonate with yeast brewing (now you've begun an involved and expensive hobby).
     The options give lots of flexibility, and the recipes are a great springboard from which to launch into your own concocted fruit and herb blended sodas.

     We purchased an ISI siphon (more on it and its performance later), but most of our attempts at this stage involve making syrup (basically combinations of fruit juice, herbs, natural oils, water and sugar, ohhhh the sugar) and mixing it with seltzer or water.
     Tammy doesn't care for the carbonation, so we're working on recipes that make a good, quality syrup that can be blended for a great soda or an equally tasty flat beverage.
     We hope you'll enjoy and try a few of our concoctions, or come up with some of your own.
     Let us know how it goes!