Kids and adults alike can celebrate the holiday season with this bubbly, naturally probiotic rich fermented cranberry soda!
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I remember the year like it was yesterday…
My oldest was 2 1/2 and we were enjoying a delicious New Year’s dinner platter of raw cheeses, crackers, fruit, olives – the works! My husband and I had glasses of wine to ring in the new year and my toddler was all of a sudden not as excited about her glass of milk!
Listen…kids love to celebrate just as much as we do!
Creating amazing memories for them while they are little so that the smells, the people, the traditions, and the food have a warm, nostalgic feeling every time the holidays come around builds family pride and appreciation.
After that year we started making sure that the girls had something special to drink with us as we rang in the new year as a family! (They also love having these fun swing top bottles to make them feel like they have their own special drink!)
Naturally fermented, bubbly cranberry soda became our New Year celebration tradition!
While some years I chose the easier route and served store bought Kombucha as I sleepily nursed newborns, or tended to crabby witching hour toddlers, we are now in a really cool season of kids that actually sleep through the night (most of the time!), and a couple of older kids that really love to help in the kitchen and truly appreciate real food.
Use real food to make real, bubbly soda!
All you need to make a traditionally fermented soda is a fermenting medium such as whey, a ginger bug, or brewed water kefir or kombucha, a little sugar for them to feed on to grow, and a really fun seasonal fruit to flavor it! You can choose whatever fermenting medium you wish, and the cranberries give this soda the most vibrant, beautiful red color you have ever seen! It is also helpful to have these grolsch/swing top type bottles to make your fermenting happen easily!
A note on the sugar
The sugar in the recipe is for the probiotic bugs, not for you! While there is some sugar left behind, the amount is completely up to you! The longer you let the drink ferment, the less sugar there will be, as the bugs in the fermenting medium (the whey, ginger bug, or brewed water kefir or kombucha) eat up the sugar.
The beauty is in being able to taste it along the way. I check the bottles every couple days and decide when it’s done. It’s pretty cold up here so fermenting happens slow in the winter – if you are in a warmer climate I would recommend checking for taste daily.
Fermented drink newbies, this part is for you!
If you are new to fermenting drinks, don’t be intimidated! It is so easy!
If you are just starting out and don’t have a fermenting medium such as a ginger bug, water kefir grains, or a SCOBY for kombucha, simply strain off some whey from a container of quality yogurt and you’ll be good to go! Put a thin towel over a bowl, scoop a 32oz container of plain, whole milk yogurt into the towel, and then tie the towel up to a cupboard door handle. The whey will drip out into the bowl – you’ll need about 1 cup to make this drink recipe and that should take about an hour-ish to drip if you squeeze it a little. The leftover yogurt in the towel is essentially “Greek yogurt”, or, if you strain it completely, it is like cream cheese!
(If you are interested in getting into more fermenting, here is my full tutorial about getting into water kefir brewing, and I love these tutorials from The Nourished Kitchen on making and using a ginger bug, as well as how to brew kombucha.)
Happy New Year from my family to yours!
Have the kids help you bottle up something special to ring in the new year! The hands on time is pretty minimal – once it’s bottled it just needs some time to sit and work it’s bubble magic!
Fermented Cranberry Soda
- 8 cups fresh cranberries
- 2 quarts of water
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups organic pure cane sugar
- 1 cup whey OR 1 cup ginger bug, OR 1-2 quarts brewed water kefir or kombucha
- Put the cranberries, water, and sugar into a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer until the cranberries soften and burst. You can use the back of your wooden spoon or a potato masher to squish them up.
- Pour the cranberry sugar mixture through a strainer over a gallon jar to strain the cranberry pulp from the sugary cranberry syrup using a fine mesh strainer. Use the back of your wooden spoon to push the liquid through the strainer, spreading the pulp around. The leftover pulp can be blended into a smoothie or stirred into yogurt or soaked oats.
- Let the cranberry syrup cool to lukewarm/room temp and then stir in your fermenting medium (The whey, ginger bug, or brewed water kefir or kombucha). If using the whey or ginger bug, you'll have to add water to top off the gallon jar leaving a couple inches of head space
- At this point, you can either put a tight lid on your jar to ferment, or transfer to swing top/grolsch style bottles to ferment. Leave the soda at room temp for a few days to a week, checking for taste daily. The rate of fermenting greatly depends on the environment in which you live. This time of year where I live the fermenting takes 7-10 days since it is so cold here (we do have heat but it is still quite cool - this week we were in the single digits for wind chills!). I leave the flip top bottles up in a high cupboard where the heat rises in the kitchen near my stove. I do find that my ferments finish up faster using the flip top bottles versus a jar with lid. A Pickle Pipe on your jars work just as good as flip top bottles in my experience too. (I love my Pickle Pipes!)
- Once your cranberry soda is the taste and amount of natural carbonation you like, transfer your jar or bottles to the fridge to slow down the fermenting. They will keep in the fridge 3-4 weeks.
LOVE this recipe!!! And it’s SO gorgeous! Such a beautiful, festive color!
Thank you Emily!
Really festive! I’d love to make a batch of this for holiday parties for those who are avoiding spirits for the season which I know quite a few of! It’s so nice to have a healthier and tasty option.
That’s a great idea Alex!
OMG, the red!!! So in love with this recipe! I can not wait for my kids to try this one, they LOVE cranberries! Thanks for the AMAZING recipe! 🙂
You’re welcome Halle! Enjoy it!
What a fun festive drink! My husband and I don’t drink alcohol so this would be the perfect special drink for us 🙂
Renee- When you say whey, would whey from milk kefir work?
I think that would work Jo 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
Definitely going to have to make some of this to get me through the holidays this year! It’s beautiful.
This is so perfect for the holiday season. I’m going to make this for my house guests !
Love love love the color…. bonus for delish and gut healthy!
This looks so delicious. And perfect for the holidays! Lovely photos!
Gorgeousssss color in this soda!
Woah, gorgeous!! Love the idea of getting in some probiotics to celebrate the New Year!
This soda is so beautiful, that deep cranberry color is mesmerizing!
I’ve gotten out of fermenting stuff lately but I think this is going to make me get back into it! My kids would go nuts over this and after this trip we are on in Mexico with the kids drinking tons of sugary pina coladas, they need to get back on the healthier drink train! This will be just the thing.
I’m so excited to see this recipe up! What a fun and festive drink that is so god for the gut too! Love it!
I’m SO ready to celebrate 2017 and this drink makes me want to party already! I have to say I think it is so wonderful to see you and your husband want to include your kids in the festivities. What a fun way to make them (or anyone) feel special. Happy New Year!
This sound so good! I love cranberries! Lovely photos too!
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This is so pretty! I’ve never tried fermenting but your tips have me feeling inspired. Love those bottles, too!
Can I just say that this is amazing?! The color of this is absolutely incredible and I imagine the taste must be simply tantalizing. Also, I love that it is wonderful that it is equally wonderful for adults and children alike.
Will the pickle pipes let all of the fizz out or just enough to keep it from exploding? I am a little nervous about having an explosion.
Hi Alexa! Yes Pickle Pipes are fine for the fermenting if you feel more comfortable with those!
Has anyone actually MADE this soda? Comment on the photos is great, and they are tempting, but how does it taste?
I am on my 3rd batch of this soda … it is excellent!
Love that! Thank you for your feedback Cindy!
Hi Renee, I make a lot of Kefir Milk and then Kefir Milk Cream Cheese. This gives me lots of Whey. With this recipe could I use Whey instead of filtered water as I have 12 Liters of Whey from making my cream cheese? Interesting enough I put fresh guavas through my food processor, then through a steel strainer to remove all the pips. The pulp was so thick that I thinned it out with Kefir Whey kept it in the fridge to make smoothies. Granted I did not add sugar to it. I need to use up all this Kefir Whey.
Regards Frances from Sunny South Africa
Hi Frances! I think you could swap some of the water for whey, but it might be too much and ferment a lot if you set it out to culture with all whey. I believe you can freeze whey – you could freeze it for using later too maybe?
This soda looks so great! I can’t wait to try making this at home. I’m curious to see if I can manage to make it look as good as the pictures. Hopefully it keeps some of that great cranberry flavor I love. This sounds like a great way to get the probiotics your body needs to help with digestion! Thank you for sharing!
It has such a great cranberry flavor! Enjoy it!
This looks so yummy! I just got a Fermentation Creation wide mouth airlock. Can I divide the ingredients proportionally to fit into a smaller Ball size. I don’t want to use the half gallon size because I don’t have that many cranberries.
Hi Esther! Yes that should work great! Enjoy it!
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I use dried cranberries and less sugar. We’ll see how it turns out!
Cool! Keep us posted!
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How abt putting a bit of yeast for fermentation??
I’ve not tried that before Jisha! I’d check with http://www.culturesforhealth.com in their FAQ’s – that is my source for learning everything about ferments.
Interesting… I’ve never had fermented soda before but this sounds good!
I love anything fermented and this looks sooo healthy and delicious. And the color is gorgeous!
This glorious color!!! I bet cranberries are so perfectly suited to this recipe. Perfect. recipe. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Thank you Megan!
This is just a gorgeous recipe and I feel so inspired to make something bubbly for the holidays. And, yay for fermentation!!!
Soda is one of those things I hardly think about, but when I get the craving for it, nothing else will do. This is such a great alternative. Ferment anything and I’m pleased with it! This is a must-make xx
This looks so lovely, I love fermented recipes, it’s like magic!
You are the queen of fermentation and thank you for sharing this wonderful flavor. My husband would love it !
Such a gorgeous drink!! I love love the photos 🙂
PERFECT for the holidays. YUM!! And so pretty.
I always have sparkling juice for the littles in my life, but this is even better!
So pretty and healthy for the season! I am definitely giving this one a try!
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Is this alcoholic? I made it and it tastes great but has a wine flavor and I’m kind of nervous about the kids drinking it??
Hi Emily! The longer the bottles sit to ferment, the more it will taste that way – it won’t have much more than a .05% alcohol content. I serve 4 oz servings to my kiddos.
When you say to use kombucha, do you mean the finished kombucha or a scoby? Or would either work? I really want to try this! It is beautiful!
Hi Susie! Do the cranberries as a second ferment with your finished kombucha!
MMMMM!!! The color! The tart flavor..this is a winner!!
What a great way to get more probiotics. I need to make more fermented foods, and this sounds like a good one to try!
Can I use store bought kombucha? So excited to try this!
Hi Nicole! I’ve never tried that before – let us know if you do!
Great website thanks for sharing
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Can I use dried cranberries? Will it still work? I am having trouble finding fresh. It looks heavenly!!
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We have this brewing right now. Can’t wait until it is finished.
Enjoy it Jennifer!
So, if I am understanding this, if I add a ginger bug, I also add more water to the gallon jar? Is it to be diluted? Thanks!! (Can’t wait to try this!! All ready to go)
Yes, correct Debi! Enjoy it!
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What is your opinion about using ginger bug and then brewed water kefir as the added water? So excited to try this!
Hi Michelle! Ginger bug liquid or water kefir will both work great in this recipe!
So I’m making this now and it smells/tastes like alcohol, and not the good kind😉. Any pointers?
Hi Anjea! There will be a “fermented” or “alcohol” like aroma to any naturally fermented food. If it is growing green fuzzy stuff on the top, or it smells sour and “off” then you can toss it but that is very rare to happen.
Can this work being made with less sugar. I like very tart cranberry drinks. I’d like to as little sugar as possible, even none if this will still ferment
Hi Karen! The sugar is for the fermentation bugs to feed on – it will not work without this amount of sugar. The probiotic bugs actually eat the sugar, so by the time it ferments the sugar content is actually quite low, and this drink does have a great tart bite to it!