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 guy...how often do we zest?) and switching to RW Knudsen black cherry juice. Here are the ingredients:
-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!