Is soda your guilty pleasure? Not anymore! Mix up a few batches of these delectable soda syrups and ditch the guilt. Enjoy your fizzy favorite sans high-fructose corn syrup and chemicals.
You can use one of the new-fangled soda machines to provide your carbonation, or simply add syrup to store-bought club soda or seltzer water. The standard mixing ratio is 1 part syrup to 3 parts soda, over ice. These syrups make terrific cocktail syrups, too–if you feel naughty, toss in a jigger of something saucy.
Lemongrass Ginger Soda Syrup
Lemongrass is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Look for it in the herb or international section of your grocer’s produce department. It must be crushed or bruised to release its flavorful oils.
Yield: 11/2 quarts
- 4-inch knob fresh ginger
- 4 stalks fresh lemongrass, cut into 2-inch lengths and smashed, plus stalks for garnish
- 6 cups water, divided
- 11/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Peel the ginger and slice it thinly (you should have about 1/2 cup). Cut the lemongrass stalks into short lengths and bruise them with the flat side of a meat mallet.
In a medium saucepan, combine 4 cups of water, sugar, ginger, and lemongrass. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Boil 1 minute, remove from heat, cover, and let until cool, room temperature.
Strain syrup and discard solids. Stir in the lemon juice and the remaining of water. Refrigerate syrup until cold. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
Blackberry Lime Soda Syrup
Blackberries are sweet little powerhouses, rich in both fiber and antioxidants. If you love blackberries but hate their seeds, this is the perfect way to enjoy them.
Yield: About 11/2 cups
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- Zest of 1 lime
- 2 pints fresh or frozen blackberries
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, lime juice, and lime zest. Bring to boil over high heat; let boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand at room temperature until cooled. Refrigerate until cold.
Crush blackberries with the back of a spoon and press the pulp through a sieve to remove seeds. Add cold lime syrup to blackberries and strain; discard solids. Refrigerate syrup for up to 1 week.
Spiced Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup
If summer had a flavor, it might be strawberry rhubarb. If you grow your own, you’ll be delighted to have a recipe that makes the most of the ubiquitous “pie plant.” Though technically considered a vegetable, thanks to New York State, in 1947 rhubarb was granted the right to be known as a fruit — and therefore enjoy reduced tariffs. Try this sweet, spiced syrup in sodas, cocktails, and as a dessert sauce.
Yield: About 1 quart
- 11/2 cups sugar
- 11/2 cups water
- 2 star anise
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1/4 vanilla bean, scraped, with seeds
- 4 cloves
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb
- 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, anise, orange zest, vanilla bean, and cloves; bring to boil over high heat. Boil 1 minute, lower heat to simmer, and add rhubarb and strawberries. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender and the liquid has thickened slightly.
Pour the strawberry-rhubarb mixture through a fine-meshed strainer set over a large bowl. Press solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.
Let syrup cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
All photos are courtesy of the author except lead photo by Mitaukano .