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How to Make Lacto-fermented Blueberry Soda

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Lacto-fermented blueberry soda is not only easy to make at home, it's also a healthful alternative to sugar and chemical-filled commercial sodas.

Before I share my lacto-fermented blueberry soda recipe, let me explain first why you should make it.

Did you know that at one time sodas were actually considered a healthful beverage?

I know that’s hard to imagine but it’s true.  Today’s commercial sodas are so full of sugar, caffeine, artificial colors and preservatives that most people have no idea that they evolved from healthful lacto-fermented beverages.

Lacto-fermentation is a natural process by which the starches and sugars in fruits, vegetables and dairy are chemically broken down by naturally occurring bacteria and converted into lactic acid (thus, the “lacto” of lacto-fermentation).  More importantly these chemical changes have some remarkable health benefits, especially for digestion.

Lacto-fermentation presents our body with valuable enzymes, probiotics and actual nutrients such as trace minerals in highly absorbable form.  Furthermore, the carbonation in lacto-fermented soda is a natural byproduct of the fermentation process.  This is of course what gives soda its notorious fizziness.  Because modern sodas are not lacto-fermented, carbonation is mechanically added.  While this doesn’t seem to have a negative health impact (though some believe it does), it certainly doesn’t add anything beneficial.

Traditionally, lacto-fermented beverages were made from the roots, leaves, fruits and even barks of various herbs, plants and trees.  For example, root beer was commonly made from the roots of the sassafras plant. Ginger ale was made from ginger (a root), of course.

And unlike the super-sized portions of today’s sodas, they were commonly consumed in small amounts and were often used for medicinal purposes.

Sally Fallon, in Nourishing Traditions, writes, “Throughout the world, these lactic-acid containing drinks have been valued for medicinal qualities including the ability to relieve intestinal problems and constipation, promote lactation, strengthen the sick and promote overall wellbeing and stamina.  Above all, these drinks were considered superior to plain water in their ability to relieve thirst during physical labor.”

Another benefit of lacto-fermented sodas is that they contain considerably less sugar as the bacteria feed on and convert the sugar during fermentation.  And of course, there’s no genetically modified high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.

My lacto-fermented blueberry soda was actually my first attempt at making real soda so I don’t claim to be any sort of expert.   However, my first batch came out beautifully and I’m pretty confident yours will too if you follow my simple recipe.

One thing you will need to increase the carbonation is soda bottles as they provide the perfect vehicle to trap carbon dioxide and increase the fizziness.

As proof, here’s a short video of myself opening my first batch:

I picked up the soda bottles at a local kitchen supply store.

You can also click here to find a good source on Amazon.

OK, let’s get to the recipe!

How to Make Lacto-fermented Blueberry Soda

Makes about 2 quarts

Ingredients

Directions

1. Simmer blueberries and sugar in water for about 20-30 minutes.

2. Cool to room temperature and strain out the blueberries.

3. Transfer what’s now essentially blueberry juice to a 2 quart glass ball jar or demijohn.  Like so:

Lacto-fermented blueberry soda is not only easy to make at home, it's also a healthful alternative to sugar and chemical-filled commercial sodas.

4. Add whey and let it ferment for at least 3 days.  Look for visible signs of fermentation via a slight fizziness.  You can let it go longer if you’d like a less sweet soda as the bacteria will continue to feed on the sugars.  I let mine go about 5 days but you can go as long as 10 days.  Taste the soda as you go to get the sweetness you desire.

Note:  there are several options for using starter cultures.  If you use whey, you’ll have to make it yourself at home (don’t worry, it’s ridiculously easy).  Other starter cultures include a ginger bug, water kefir and champagne yeast.

5. Transfer blueberry soda to soda bottles via a funnel or measuring cup.  Like so:

Lacto-fermented blueberry soda is not only easy to make at home, it's also a healthful alternative to sugar and chemical-filled commercial sodas.

My two quarts fit perfectly into these three soda bottles:

Lacto-fermented blueberry soda is not only easy to make at home, it's also a healthful alternative to sugar and chemical-filled commercial sodas.

6. Keep the soda bottles at room temperature and check every day.  As the video above showed, the carbonation can increase rapidly!  Make sure to open the bottles every day to let some of the gasses escape.  After a few days, you can move the bottles to your refrigerator where the fermentation will dramatically slow down.

7. Enjoy!

Want more recipes?  Here’s a fantastic resource with not only great soda recipes but many other traditionally brewed beverages as well such as cider, wine and kombucha.

Lacto-fermented blueberry soda is not only easy to make at home, it's also a healthful alternative to sugar and chemical-filled commercial sodas.

Click here to check out True Brews on Amazon.

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Lacto-fermented blueberry soda is not only easy to make at home, it's also a healthful alternative to sugar and chemical-filled commercial sodas.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for this. Looks really good.

    Do you think it will work also without the added sugar? that is, just with the natural sugar of simmering the fruit alone (perhaps a more sugary fruit than blueberries)?

  2. Any idea what the carb count would be after fermentation?

  3. Looks great and the author was at our fermentation fest last year debuting this book!!
    Cheers Trish

  4. This looks BOMB, Craig. So excited to try it. And I am even more thrilled because I have copy of True Brews coming in the mail!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  5. Love this idea, Craig! I cannot wait to try it – I would’ve never thought to lacto-ferment blueberries – and the pictures look awesome. 🙂

  6. Penny Taylor says:

    I’m making the blueberry soda. It’s on day #3 on my kitchen counter. Has developed beautiful pure white mold on the surface. Smells fine. Sound okay or should I be worried?

  7. Howdy…I have water kefir grains and a kombucha scoby…do I just use a tablespoon of the water kefir grains in place of the whey starter?

  8. Hi, I just came over after getting excited about the Raspberry Soda you posted at Mommypotamus.com . I had a couple questions, being new to soda making (feel free to see the comments on that post). So I thought I’d see if you had more answers in your soda posts on your own site here. Thankfully, yes! I just watched your video^ on making whey…very cool.
    So now I’m mainly wondering if the right kind of whey can be made just as well with plain, full-fat Greek Yogurt I buy at the store? Or are there any ingredients to check that either need to be included/absent when looking at store-bought yogurts?

    Thank you so much for the help, I’m very much looking forward to my first hand at it, ASAP.

    • Hi Krystal, greek yogurt is thicker because a lot of the whey is already strained out. I’d guess you could still get a little bit of whey from it if you strained it again. I’ve never tried it though so I’m not sure. But I think a better bet would be to go with a regular full-fat yogurt. As for other ingredients, definitely avoid the crappy yogurts like Dannon and Yoplait. They contain a lot of additives and fillers. Nor do they source their milk from grass-fed cows. Good companies that I’m aware of include Brown Cow, Seven Stars and Stonyfield Farm. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  9. I have a couple of questions for you. First off I made a big mistake and bought fat free yogurt instead of full fat yogurt. It said on the container active and live ingredients. I went ahead and strained it and got close to a pint of what looks like whey. Is this still going to work in this? also I wanted to make grape soda using whey and this process. can I?

    • Hi Kaitlin, yes the whey from fat-free yogurt will still work. And yes, it will work great with the grape soda too. Good luck!

      • Craig,
        I was wondering if you can use this recipe with any fruit? It being apple season, I have a LOT of apples right now. Also, we have raspberry and mullberry (as well as blueberry) bushes in our yard and I would like to try to make soda from them too. Would oranges work too or is the acid content too high?
        Also, my son is kind of finicky and doesn’t like soda because the carbonation makes it “spicy.” I’m hoping to provide this as an alternative to the juice he prefers because I can rarely get him to drink water. Does this make a lot of carbonation? Is there a way to mitigate it?
        Thanks for your great recipes!
        Carrie

        • Hi Carrie, you can substitute any berry for a similar result. As for other fruit, I believe you’d just need the equivalent amount of fruit juice but I haven’t tried anything other than berries (and watermelon) yet. As for carbonation, it’s just a byproduct of fermentation so it’s kinda hard to control. You could always just take fruit juice and add carbonated water too. That’s not lacto-fermentation but it is a common method for making soda.

        • I know this was last year but couldn’t you just “burp” it a lot and let the carbonation or most of it out? Basically make it flatter? Seems worth a try anyway.

  10. Virginia Raedel says:

    Just to make sure, I am going to use my water kefir grains? And just the tablespoon of the grains?. Wasn’t sure, as I make water kefir at home and also do a double ferment with fruit,but remove the grains for the second ferment. Thanks

    • Hi Virginia, I’m sure the kefir grains would work but from what I’ve read those who use water kefir as a starter culture just use it straight (not the grains). So you’d just substitute the water kefir for the whey in the recipe.

  11. Is it necessary to transfer the soda from the quart jar to smaller bottles? I have different size mason jars but none of those bottles you show and wonder if that step is necessary. Could I just let the mixture ferment in the original jar for the full amount of time? Thanks.

  12. I am completely new to this fermenting! Is there a starter that can be used that is not dairy based?? My son is anaphylactic to dairy.

  13. Katheryn Fischer says:

    Hi Craig,
    This recipe sounds amazing! I started making it and have a couple questions though. I halved the recipe and the liquid wasn’t nearly as red/purple as yours looked in the picture after I simmered the blueberries for 30min, it was more of a light brown color. Do you have any idea why this might have happened? Also I found a pure whey powder at my local health food store. As far as I know, it’s still just pure whey, but will it being in a powder form still work or does it have to be liquid?

  14. Lori Jenkins says:

    Hi. I am doing a whey cooler right now, and it has been sitting on my counter for 4 days. IT is very cool right now. My home stays around 68 degrees sometimes cooler. Could this be affecting the ferment process?

    Thanks.

  15. Debra Goodman says:

    will this work is the whey has been frozen?

  16. can you use frozen blueberries?
    Can blueberries be replaced by raspberries?

  17. Jessica m says:

    how long will the finished soda keep in the fridge?

    • Hi Jessica, it will definitely go flat after a while and lose some of its sweetness as the bacteria will continue to feed on the sugars. I’m not sure exactly but I’d say it would be best to consume within a few weeks.

  18. Just shared my first batch of Blueberry Soda with my kids and it was wonderful! I might want it to ferment a smidge longer next time, but my kids thought it was perfect! Thanks for the awesome recipe!!

  19. I am so excited by this idea of making natural soda. I am not a huge soda fan due to the high sugar and sketchy ingredients but I often crave something with a little fizz. I normally just go for sparkling water… This seems like the best of both worlds – a little sweet, a little fizz and gut benefits to boot! Anyway, I cooked some wild blueberries with organic brown sugar (it’s what was in the cupboard) and it looks and tastes great. I have a large fermenting jar on the way (from a friend) and have found a source for soda bottles. I neglected to measure how many ounces of juice I wound up with. Is any lost to evaporation during fermentation? I see you fit it into 3 soda bottles but what size are they? Just trying to make sure I get enough bottles in the size I want (8oz) 🙂

    Also, I saved the cooked blueberries and added them to the greek yogurt left over after straining out whey. I highly recommend this, YUMMY!!

    • Ok this was a pretty dumb question… once I poured the juice/whey mixture into the large jar I could see how many ounces I have.

      I do however have another question – how soon should I expect to see bubbles? 24 hours? 48 hours? I suppose it depends somewhat on the ambient temperature along with how many live bacteria were in the whey… Have you observed an average number of days for the start of fermentation (assuming you have fermented other sodas since the original post).

  20. Hi, I’m making milk kefir. Can I use the whey from milk kefir for the soda?

  21. Thank you–I was looking for a good ferment to use up some of my frozen blueberries from last summer before we go pick fresh ones again this year!

    What about the risk of it turning into wine? Is that possible? I don’t want to accidentally make wine for my kids. 😉

    • Hi Amy, the fermentation process is very short with this (3-5 days) so I wouldn’t worry about that. Good luck!

      • Thank you so much, Craig!

        A couple more questions, if you don’t mind:

        1. I did make this and followed the directions but it never really got fizzy. Maybe I just wasn’t using the right kind of soda bottles? I had one that was a similar shape to the ones in your picture plus some GT Dave’s Kombucha bottles.

        2. There is a little bit of white substance on top. Is that mold? Can a young child drink this if I scoop the mold out? It’s a little hard to scoop out from a bottle . . .

        3. Are the probiotics affected if this is frozen? Or if I make gummy candies with it (of course the portion that has to be heated with the gelatin might have the probiotics affected, but the rest wouldn’t have to be heated.)

        4. Was it supposed to be covered tightly in the first ferment, or with a coffee filter like water kefir or kombucha?

        5. How does the soda know what the difference is between the first ferment and the second ferment? Why does it change just because it is moved into a different container?

        Sorry about so many questions! No rush to respond–that’s ok. 🙂 Thanks again for sharing and helping!

        • I’m curious because I may be wrong it’s a little unclear but I don’t think there is a 2f. I think you make the berry/sugar syrup and then mix that (cooled), water and whey together and pour into bottles. Maybe you do that and let it sit for a few days in the big jar then bottle but I’m not sure why that step would be necessary since you aren’t doing anything else to it the way you do Wk or KT…

          Maybe yours didn’t fizz because the seal wasn’t as airtight as it looked? I know those seals can get worn and sometimes you need to replace the rubber on the bottles. Just a guess. As I look at it again if there is just meant to be one ferment that might answer your fizz question too…

          I’m curious to hear the answer to that because this would be so simple and straight forward, almost too much so, if it’s just meant to be one ferment.

  22. Stephanie Carreno says:

    I just made half this recipe. Fermented 5 days with regular canning lid on as I felt directions were unclear on the type of lid to me anyhow. I then bottled into recycled GT bottles last night and this morning went to burp them and they were ready. Upon tasting it I was incredibly surprised because it tasted like someone dumped vodka in it. Help! What did I do wrong? I don’t want to brew alcohol. Thank you

  23. Just a small question: the soda turned out wonderful, but definitely tastes like there’s alcohol. Is it just that my taste buds aren’t used to fermented juice? How likely is that, my kids very badly want to try it.

  24. Does the end result have a alcohol smell or taste?

  25. Hi, instead of using sugar with the blueberry can you use maple syrup to substitute sugar?

  26. Nafisah Ahmad says:

    Hi..just check wt u. Will d alcohol level lessen with time. How long for it to be minimal? N d starter is milk kefir whey? Tq so much

  27. Can you use any juice? Does the first ferment with the whey in the half gallon mason jar get sealed or stay open?

    • Hi Quianna, yes, you can juice. You can either seal the jar or secure a cloth or dish towel over the top. Make sure to swish it around once a day to prevent mold from growing on the surface.

  28. Thanks for the recipes! Can’t wait to try! Do I need to cook the fruit if it’s berries? Or can I purée them and use them like you did with the watermelon recipe? What would the difference be with reserving the pulp vs adding it?

    • Hi Kevin, I think cooking them in water more easily creates the juice as blueberries are a little more fibrous than watermelon. You could certainly try pureeing them raw though. I’ve never tried that but I imagine it would still work OK. Let me know how it goes!

  29. Francine Shannon says:

    Hi, I really enjoy your posts. And this recipe sounds awesome. I have 2 questions and I apologize if you’ve already answered them before as I have no read through all of the comments. But question 1 is can a sugar substitute be used in place of the sugar as I read it tastes better sweetened but I have a diabetic in my family.
    Question 2 is can frozen (yet defrosted) fruit be used as some of the seasons berries have already passed.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Francine, if by a “sugar substitute” you mean something like honey or maple syrup, I think you can try those but they don’t work as well as refined sugar (especially honey). Also, keep in mind that the sugar content decreases over time as the bacteria ferment the sugars. But if you’re talking about some artificial sweetener, I don’t believe that would work at all. As for your second question, yes, frozen fruit can definitely be used!

  30. Hi there. I made sour cherry soda just layering the very ripe sour cherries and sugar in a job. After a week or so I put the whole thing in a blender and transferred to smaller jar. (I was happy to have bits of cherry in my drinks). With some water added, it was fizzy and delicious. My questions is this: considering that I didn’t add a starter culture, does my drink still constitute lactofermentation and does it contain probiotics? Thanks very much. Peter

Trackbacks

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  2. […] You can check out my other post for making lacto-fermented blueberry soda right here. […]

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