Honey’s antibacterial qualities can be problematic for the microorganisms necessary in the fermentation process. However, the addition of liquid to honey disrupts its naturally occurring antimicrobial environment and allows healthy microbes to move in. The exciting thing is, even when diluted, honey maintains the ability to carry and catalyze the phytochemicals from herbs, fruits, or vegetables mixed into it. When we ferment a blend of these ingredients, we make a true superfood that delivers all the benefits of fermentation, including improved digestion, along with all the inherent benefits of honey, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
Honey is a beautiful fermentation medium. It contains its own active yeasts that, with a bit of added water and time, will reliably turn into booze. At some point, I realized that my failed experimental infusions could be made into sodas and wines for the enjoyment of my family.
Fermentation type: Lacto
Primary Fermentation: 2 to 4 days
Secondary Fermentation: 12 to 24 hours
Total: 3 to 5 days
Yield: About 1/2 gallon.
- 2-1/2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped fresh herbs and fruits of your choice
- 1/2 gallon pure spring water, divided
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- Boil 1 quart of pure spring water. (You need to be careful with your water source for this kind of fermentation. Don’t use chlorinated or fluoridated city water.) Pour the boiled water over the herbs and fruit in a 1⁄2-gallon glass container until the water just covers them. Place something over the opening of the container, such as a plate, and allow the ingredients to steep until the water has returned to room temperature.
- Add the raw honey and enough water to fill the container, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Stir well.
- Cover the opening of the container with butter muslin, a tea towel, or a coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
- Let sit at room temperature, stirring 3 or 4 times a day. You should see bubbling begin after 2 to 4 days.
- Once your soda begins to bubble, strain out the fruits and herbs, and then transfer the liquid to Grolsch-style stoppered bottles. Allow your beverage to ferment at room temperature for another 12 to 24 hours, and then move it to the refrigerator for storage.
- Once chilled, your soda will be ready to enjoy. Drink within 9 months.
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Dawn Combs is an ethnobotanist and herbalist. She’s the formulator at Mockingbird Meadows and chief soda jerk at her family’s storefront apothecary, Soda Pharm. This is excerpted from Sweet Remedies, used with permission from Storey Publishing.