This soda is a powerful health tonic. With the combined medicinal benefits of elderberries and stinging nettle, this is a great drink to ease a cold. Both plants have significant antioxidant properties, and elderberries are high in antiviral compounds. Take care when picking fresh nettle to avoid its characteristic sting! If you don’t have access to one of these ingredients, you can either leave it out or use another berry or herb in its place. Yields 1 gallon.
- 1 gallon water
- 1 to 2 cups fresh or dried elderberries
- Two or three 2-inch fresh stinging nettle stems with leaves, or 2 tablespoons dried
- 1-1/2 cups cane sugar or raw honey
- 1 lemon, sliced in half
- 1- to 2-inch piece ginger root
- 2 tablespoons ginger bug starter, or 1 teaspoon dried champagne, bread, or ale yeast
- Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and stir in all ingredients except yeast. Make sure sugar or honey fully dissolves and doesn’t caramelize on the bottom of the pot. Let simmer for about 30 minutes, and then allow to cool until warm to the touch.
- Place a sieve over the large funnel, and pour the mixture through a funnel into a gallon jug, straining out any solids.
- Add either ginger bug starter or dried yeast. Place an airlock or balloon on the jug opening and let sit for several hours or overnight. You’ll have visible fermentation when the liquid produces CO2, causing fizzing and bubbling in the airlock, or expansion of the balloon. When you observe fermentation, start bottling immediately to minimize alcohol production. Drink within 2 to 3 weeks of bottling.
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Jereme Zimmerman is a traditional brewing revivalist, homesteader, and speaker at nationwide natural living events, including Mother Earth News Fairs. He lives in Kentucky with his wife and daughters.