Homemade Strawberry and Blueberry Lime Soda

When I was in middle school, the neighbors down the road got a carbonation machine. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. You’d put a drink in one of these special bottles, put it on the machine and suddenly you had soda. Amazing. The kids in the lucky carbonation-machine-owning family would tell us about all the cool soda flavors they made. Word was that they had even tried to carbonate milk, just because they could.

When another set of my parent’s friends got a carbonation machine, it was starting to feel like our family was the only one left out of this fancy, fizzy, soda-making party. In fact, I honestly thought just about everyone had carbonation machines until the time I was in college and asked my roommates if they remembered when carbonation machines were all the rage.

Blank stares all around. Apparently carbonation machines were only all the rage in the little world I lived in as a kid.

That didn’t stop me from wanting one to make cool sodas like our friends. Eventually my brother and I came up with what he called “the poor man’s carbonation machine” – ginger ale. We figured out that we could make pretty much anything into soda by mixing ginger ale in it, and decided maybe we didn’t need a fancy carbonation machine after all.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago by an Italian soda I got when my husband and I were out with some friends. When ordering, I really had no idea what an Italian soda was but decided to give it a try. It was delicious. After googling it at home I learned that Italian soda was just a flavored syrup mixed with club soda. Guess my brother and I weren't the only ones who thought to make soda by mixing a fizzy drink with juice. I started to think of the fun drinks my brother and I used to make and all of a sudden I wanted to make my own soda flavors again.

You can imagine how excited I was when I found this article. (Thanks for the heads up on this magazine, Snails Life.) I gave the strawberry and blueberry lime flavors a try, and they are amazing. Even better than the concoctions I’d come up with as a kid, or even that great Italian soda I had enjoyed so much. The sodas are perfect summer drink and I love how you can adjust how sweet they are by how much syrup you add. I think it would be a fun party idea to make up a bunch of the syrups and have people mix their own sodas at a party or BBQ. (Check out the online version of the magazine - there are other cool flavors there that I have yet to try. I've got my eye on the pink grapefruit kind next.) Even if you get tired of drinking soda, the syrups themselves would be delicious over ice cream. Is this something I'd do if I drank soda every day? Probably not, since it requires more prep time than most of my lunches. But for a fun, refreshing summer treat these sodas are just perfect. No machine required.

Strawberry Soda

3 lbs strawberries, trimmed and hulled
4 T white vinegar
2 cups sugar

1. Place strawberries in a blender and pulse until smooth. Add vinegar and mix well.

2. Pour into a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and let drain. Stir so you get all the juice from the berries and discard the pulp.

3. Transfer juice to a medium pot and add sugar. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Cool and mix with soda water. (Since the syrup is somewhat thick, I found it easier to mix with a small amount of soda water first to lighten it up, and then add as much soda water as I wanted to taste.)
Blueberry-Lime Soda

4 cups blueberries
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 T lime juice
Soda or Tonic Water

1. Place blueberries and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Cool

2. Pour blueberries into a fine mesh sieve over a large owl and let drain. Stir so that you get all the juice from the berries. Discard pulp.

3. Transfer juice to a medium saucepan and add sugar and lime juice. Stir mixture and bring to a boil. Let simmer 5 minutes.

4. Cool and mix with soda water and ice.

Recipe Source: Sweet Paul


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