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.