Saturday, June 16

Lacto-Fermented Soda Excitement!

I'm subscribed to Kitchen Muse, a "traditional food" based weekly meal plan. Every month they sound out a wonderful feature, essentially an article about some food or drink of interest. June's feature was on lacto-fermented sodas.

Fermentation uses bacteria and/or yeast to transform sugars into alcohol or acid. So essentially you need the microbial culture, water, and sugar. With sodas we're going for an acidic result rather than alcoholic. In the later stage of fermentation, carbonation is produced. This is how sodas such as root beer and ginger ale were originally made. If the soda is drunk before fermentation is complete, there's still some sugar and therefore the taste is sweet and mildly acidic.

It's called lacto-fermented sodas because the organisms used for fermenting are generally the same organisms with which we culture milk to produce yogurt. One source for the culture is to use whey, the liquid in yogurt. Another source are water kefir grains, if you can obtain them. In both cases, the soda becomes a source for probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that live in our gut and aid greatly in our digestion and health. The acid is also beneficial for our health, as it allows the digestive system to produce less hydrochloric acid while still digesting effectively. And finally the sodas can be made with various herbal ingredients for flavor and medicinal action.

Here is one theoretical example:

Orange soda, made with...
...orange peel infusion. Digestive stimulant, etc.
...orange blossom hydrosol. Anti-depressant, anti-spasmodic, etc. And
...the juice of one squeezed orange.

You get the idea!

I've ordered these...



...for the first stage of fermentation at room temperature, and these...



... for the second stage of fermentation, in the refrigerator. It was important to choose a bottle that was not too firmly closed, because if the soda overferments it may cause the bottle to explode. And because I'm a little bit anal, I ordered a yogurt cheesemaker to obtain the whey--you can do it simply with cheesecloth and a colander in the fridge, but to me that sounds like a recipe for a mess in the fridge. I'm also hoping that this project will result in more cheesecake around here.

For more information on lacto-fermented sodas, check my bookmarks: http://del.icio.us/sphinxie/soda