Rhubarb is one of the first harvests of the season and a sign that summer is on its way. Since rhubarb is very seasonal and hard to find in most grocery stores I make a point of hoarding it when it is available. I usually end up freezing gallons of it when I can or turning it into jam. What I really like about rhubarb is its wonderful tart flavor, having a predilection for all things sour rhubarb is like manna from heaven. It also coincidentally can make a fine carbonated beverage.
The basic process of making homemade soda is very simple and basically involves making a sweet solution and then adding yeast to consume some of the sugar and produce carbonation and a small amount of alcohol. It is best made in small batches that can be consumed in about 2 weeks or less because over time the yeast will consume more sugar producing a more alcoholic beverage than you might otherwise want. I strongly recommend that you bottle in plastic PET soda bottles instead of glass bottles as this allows you to judge the carbonation level and avoid exploding bottles.
This version of rhubarb fizz results in an off dry soda with a mild rhubarb flavor. You can always increase the rhubarb or the sugar to taste. For this recipe you will need the following equipment:
- 6 1-Liter PET bottles with screw caps (I reuse club soda bottles)
- Large stock pot (At least 2 gallons)
- Smaller sauce pan (1 gallon)
- Fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth
You will also need the following ingredients:
- 3lbs of rhubarb
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1.5 gallons of de-clorinated water
- Ginger bug (a culture of wild yeast and bacteria obtained from ginger root), or 1 pkg of champagne yeast
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- Mix the rhubarb and 1 gallon of water in the large stock pot and heat gently until the rhubarb begins to break apart. Do not boil.
- While the rhubarb is heating make a simple syrup by combing the remaining half gallon of water and the 1.5 cups of sugar in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil then let cool.
- Once the rhubarb has fallen apart into fine fibers turn off the heat and strain the liquid from the solids using a mesh strainer. Retain the liquid and discard the pulp.
- Add the sugar solution to the rhubarb solution and allow to cool to 70 degrees F.
- Add a half cup of strained ginger bug solution or 1/4 tsp champagne yeast, stir until dissolved.
- Add lemon juice to taste.
- Using a funnel, fill the soda bottles until there is 2″ of head space (a ladle is handy).
- Screw the caps on tight and keep in a warm spot away from direct sunlight.
- Check the bottles every 12 hours or so and when they feel firm transfer to the refrigerator.
- Carefully open the bottles as they tend to be quite foamy, I advise doing this over the sink.
- Serve and enjoy! Bottles can be re capped and refrigerated for up to about a week. You may want to let the drink de-gas for a minute or so as the yeast can sometimes give it a sulphury or yeasty aroma that some people do not prefer