Healthy? Soda?!

The last thing I expected when I signed up for the Fermenting the Harvest workshop at NOFA-VT’s 2013 winter conference was an education on healthy soda. I admit I had never heard of lacto-fermented sodas until Caroline Homan’s presentation that morning. I had also never heard of a “healthy” soda that wasn’t some marketing ploy from a large multinational conglomerate. I won’t give you step-by-step instructions on how to make lacto-fermented sodas at home; after all I still haven’t made a batch myself. What I will tell you is this: the whole process seems relatively easy not to mention creative and fun. If you are interested in making a delicious soda that isn’t too sweet and is also good for you the local expert on the subject, the aforementioned Caroline Homan, teaches a how-to workshop at City Market. While I may not be qualified to give instruction on lacto-fermented sodas as a self-professed foodie I feel more able to give my impressions as a taste tester of Ms. Homan’s recipes. As I mentioned before making your own sodas allow for more than a bit of creativity and many of the flavors I was privileged to taste are representative of that. Of the eight flavors available, my absolute favorite was strawberry-rhubarb-mint. The sweetness of the berries combined with the tangy tartness of the rhubarb and crisp refreshment of the mint tasted like the perfect summer afternoon. The soda was effervescent rather than fizzy (think sparking water versus club soda) and only slightly sweet. Another favorite was the grapefruit-rosemary. While I would label this particular flavor an acquired taste I couldn’t help but think what amazing Campari or gin cocktails it would make all summer long. The other flavors that I was able to taste included beet (not my favorite), blueberry, ginger-orange-turmeric (spicy!), sweet potato (delicious!) and hibiscus-rosehip. Even the flavors I didn’t love were at the very least intriguing and begged a second sip. For those of you who have never tried (let alone made) a lacto fermented soda I would highly recommend finding a way to do so. I’m already signed up for my own workshop so here is to a summer of making (and drinking) some delicious and nutritious lacto fermented soda. Guest blogger: Tucker Wright