Just in time for Thanksgiving! Unless you don’t have a ginger bug starter culture… in which case you can definitely be drinking this by Christmas, so stay with me!
This cranberry soda is crisp, tart, refreshing and great by itself or as a mule mixer (just about any type of liquor works in it but I’ll be going rum and bourbon myself).
Well, I say we do this! (Unless you want to hear a lengthy backstory?! No??!!)
You will need:
- Medium saucepan & wooden spoon
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Mortar & pestle (or rolling pin and ziploc bag to crush spices)
- Grolsch-style fliptop bottle (one-liter)
- 4-cup (one quart) measuring cup
- Bottling funnel
- Citrus juice press
- Fine mesh strainer
- 4 cups filtered or distilled water (or substitute the water, sugar, and cranberries with all-natural sweetened cranberry juice cocktail)
- 1/2 lb. cranberries
- 1/2 cup + 2 TBSP sugar (if using pre-made juice that’s already sweetened, you can skip any added sugar or just add 1-2 TBSP if you like a sweeter soda, as some of the sugar will be lost during fermentation)
- Juice of one clementine or orange
- 25g ginger, peeled & grated
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 tsp whole allspice (~10 berries)
- 3-4 cloves
- Pinch ground nutmeg (1/8 tsp or less)
- 1/4 cup strained ginger bug culture
- Optional: 1 tsp orange zest
- Optional: pinch cardamom
1.) Peel the ginger with a spoon and grate it. Wash the cranberries and remove any which are mushy or rotten (there’s usually at least a couple).
2.) In the mortar & pestle, coarsely grind the allspice & cloves
3.) In the saucepan, combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the ginger bug culture. Stirring to dissolve the sugar, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Allow this liquid (“wort”) to simmer for around 20 minutes.
4.) Remove from heat. Keep saucepan covered and let stand until wort is room temperature (or move to fridge to expedite).
5.) Once the wort is cooled, strain the 1/4 cup ginger bug culture with the mesh strainer and transfer it to the fliptop bottle using the bottling funnel.
6.) Using the mesh strainer, strain the wort several times (you can pass it between the 4-cup measuring cup and the saucepan). Make sure to remove the pulps and debris from the containers and strainer each time. Finally, the wort should appear very pure and free of any bits or fibers.
7.) Once the wort is strained sufficiently and is pure liquid, transfer it to the fliptop bottle using the bottling funnel. You want to reach about 3″ from the top. If you have too much wort, you can drink it! If you have too little, just top up with some filtered water.
8.) Seal the bottle and allow it to stand at room temperature for around 3 days. During the winter months, cold temperatures can slow the rate of fermentation/carbonation, so try to find a relatively warm location.
9.) Then transfer the soda to the refrigerator and allow to stand overnight. Then, it’s ready to go!
Place downward pressure on the cap when unlatching, allowing the gases to release slowly. You can even relatch if needed and repeat until it’s safe. Otherwise, you may lose some liquid to overflow, depending on how carbonated it is.