Recently I’ve become interested in making my own sodas, with real yeast rather than carbonation. Really, I’m not surprised. I started keeping a sourdough culture and the desire to raise some pet yogurt or pet ginger soda makes perfect sense now. My pancakes have a name (Bob) and my son is absolutely delighted by our temperamental magic kitchen pet. I know our bread is healthier and I feel more connected to my ancestors who carefully tended their sourdough cultures in their own kitchens. Experimenting with my baking is so much more satisfying. Naturally I want this to extend into my herbalism, and crafting healthy medicinal sodas seems like something that needs to happen in my kitchen. Even if I don’t achieve medicine I can at least play around with my culinary creativity, as well as satisfy my inner desire to enjoy the slow processes of nature and the relaxed feeling that taking pride in tending to my family.
After browsing through various books, I decided to get Fermentation for Beginners: The Step-by-Step Guide to Fermentation and Probiotic Foods from Drake’s Press. While I know there are books specific to natural soda making, this book also includes health benefits from fermentation, and covers recipes and procedures for a variety of natural ferments. Some of the topics included are: pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, cultured buttermilk, yogurt, tofu, miso, sourdough, pickled and fermented fish, vinegars, sodas, and yes alcoholic beverages are also included. This book was enjoyable to read, and provides a nice generalized reference. Naturally, any book this generalized is going to have a tough time fitting advanced information into the provided length, but this book seems great to pair with internet research until you are ready to move beyond a beginner book in the subject.
One of the main reasons I still like to read instructional books even when the internet is loaded with articles is that books are able to go more in depth to a subject, providing you with history and background information. This book does not disappoint for that. How fermented foods boost our health, the difference between home and commercial pickles, and what to look for when selecting tools and ingredients. It provides basic recipes for your cultures, and if you are the type of cook who will look for the basic recipe and allow your own creativity to take over, this is the style of book for you. I find it perfect for my needs, and can’t wait to try as many of these recipes as possible.
I also get a cheap thrill every time someone praises my breads and I get to say, “Thanks, made it from scratch. Grew the yeast myself.” It’s so fun to watch people’s jaws drop when they realize you weren’t joking. Very satisfying. I look forward to stunning people with my sodas, and probably soon after that my sauerkraut and fermented pickles.
And, yes, I look forward to medicinal benefits as well, hopefully. I already have made ginger consumption a part of my life and my family’s life. My son suffers from frequent stomach upset, and I myself struggle with joint pain. Among the benefits to consuming probiotic live cultures is improved digestion, leading to less stomach upset and decreased inflammation in the joints as well. Improved absorption of nutrients alone can help treat us, if we combine that with the healing properties of ginger, and if the ginger ale sodas can increase the digestion of the medicinal ginger, perhaps this home will end up a little healthier.
I’m happily starting a ginger bug now, in canning jars with the lid on loose so that it doesn’t explode. This is day one, and it took me all of five minutes to throw together. I’ll let you know how it goes and probably tell you way too much about it along with taking more pictures of my new pet than can probably be called sane. Hopefully this will eventually lead to a healthy and refreshing tonic that is fun to make as well as drink.