Want to be the hit of your next potluck? Forget the boring old potato and macaroni salad.
Make lacto-fermented soda from fresh summer fruit. Better yet, make lacto-fermented watermelon soda.
Folks will not only love it but it’s also a great conversation starter. Trust me, people will have a million questions for you. In fact, it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. So before I get to the recipe, I thought I’d help prepare you. I’ve put together a brief summary of some of the more common questions from some of the more common types of potluck guests.
Lacto-fermented Watermelon Soda Potluck Preparation Question List:
THE EXTROVERT: OMG this fermented watermelon soda is like…the GREATEST thing I’ve ever tasted! How did you make it? I want to learn. Now I’m going to cling to you for the next hour and monopolize the conversation.
THE INTROVERT: I’m just going to stand over here and quietly worship you and listen to the extroverts ask you questions. Because this really is the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted and I’m REALLY interested too.
THE LUSH (the answer to both question is an enthusiastic “yes”): Can you make cocktails out of this? Say like a watermelon mojito?
THE FELLOW FERMENTER (consider yourself lucky if you encounter one of these): Cool! I make fermented veggies. Let’s go be new BFFs and have an hour-long conversation about the magic and wonders of lacto-fermentation.
THE MOMS: OMG OMG my kids will LOVE this! It’s really that easy to make? And it’s lower in sugar than commercial sodas? And it contains probiotics and enzymes? And it doesn’t contain any chemicals? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me how to make this at home.
THE DADS: Great, my wife is going to turn our kitchen into a science experiment now.
THE DUDES (in a dry, sarcastic monotone): Fermented? Dude, I thought that was like… something to do with beer.
THE NEVER-ENDING QUESTIONS ABOUT WHEY: What is whey? How do you make whey? Can I get whey in stores? I have an allergy to whey. What can I substitute for whey?
THE OVERLY IMPRESSIONISTIC SINGLE GAL/GUY: I think I love you. Will you marry me?
So there you go. I hope that helps.
Just prepare yourself for an influx of new friends and mass adoration (except for the dudes).
How to Make Lacto-fermented Watermelon Soda
Makes about 1 quart
- 4 cups watermelon, cut into chunks.
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar, dehydrated cane juice or rapadura
- 1/4 cup whey. If you don’t have whey or have an allergy to whey you can also use water kefir, champagne yeast or a ginger bug.
- 1 quart water
1. Boil sugar in water for a few minutes and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature.
2. Cut watermelon into chunks and puree in blender or food processor.
3. Strain out in a strainer covered with cheesecloth to get the watermelon juice.
There’s the pulp on the left and the juice on the right.
I got about 2 cups of watermelon juice.
5. Let it ferment on your counter for at least 2 days and up to 10 days. The longer you let it ferment the less sugar there will be as the bacteria will consume and convert the sugar during fermentation. Swish the soda around once a day to prevent mold from forming on the surface.
6. Transfer to soda bottles. Soda bottles increase the natural carbonation.
Here’s some soda bottles I picked up from a local kitchen store where I live in western Massachusetts.
Those flip cap bottles are fantastic and make bottling and opening the soda very easily.
If you can’t find soda bottles in a store near you, you can find them here on Amazon.
7. The carbonation will increase rapidly. Be sure to release the pressure that builds every day until you’re ready to transfer them to the fridge. Do this over the sink or outside as the geyser effect is common.
Now I made this watermelon soda as part of a home fermentation demo for my mom and I forgot to get a separate picture of the final product.
But here it is amidst the other fermented goodies we made in one afternoon:
The bottle to the left of the watermelon soda is blueberry soda. Want to learn how to make that as well?
And if you want a nice resource for how to make traditional lacto-fermented sodas check out this great book, True Brews, by Emma Christensen.
In addition to lacto-fermented soda, you also learn how to make other lacto-fermented beverages such as kefir, kombucha and cider.