Introduction: Watermelon Summer Soda
I'm trying to cut down on sodas, but they're just so satisfying on a hot day. I love the fizzy bite of the bubbles. One solution to satisfying my craving without entirely giving up my quest for health is to make my own sodas from fresh juices. At least a juice soda has some nutritional value (I tell myself). If you'd like to make your own sodas reliably, you'll want to get a whipping siphon . . . you know, you see them used to dispense the whipped toppings at Starbucks. This is a versatile piece of kitchen equipment that can make some very creative recipes, so I highly recommend the purchase.
Here's is what you'll need to make your own sparkling watermelon-in-a-glass:
- A whipping siphon (I used an iSi Gourmet Whip)
- A soda charger (carbon dioxide gas canister)
- A ripe watermelon
- A strainer and cheesecloth
- 1 cup sugar
- half a lime, sliced
- 2-3 slices of fresh ginger
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh mint
Step 1: Prepare the Fruit
Choose a heavy watermelon with a creamy golden spot where it rested while ripening in the field. Remove the rind and cut the fruit into chunks for the blender. (You won't need this much, I just got a little carried away!)
Step 2: Juice the Watermelon
Puree the chunks of watermelon in the blender, then strain the mixture through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. (If you happen to have a dehydrator, don't throw the watermelon pulp away. It makes killer fruit leather when mixed half and half with applesauce!)
Step 3: Prepare a Simple Syrup
Making a simple syrup is, well, simple. It's just one cup of sugar, one cup of water, and whatever flavoring you care to add. I chose a few slices of lime, some mint, and a couple slices of ginger. Boil the ingredients together until the sugar has melted and formed a clear syrup, then let it cool and steep for several minutes more as though you were making tea. Remove the flavorings and discard. The syrup will now be a lovely lime ginger mint flavor.
Step 4: Sweeten the Watermelon Juice
Add a little lime-ginger-mint sweet pizzazz to your watermelon juice. I used a quarter cup of the simple syrup to sweeten two cups of watermelon juice (the maximum amount that will fit in my siphon). You may add more or less to taste. If you really like the taste of the simple syrup, you can dilute the juice with water and add extra syrup until you achieve just the right level of sweetness. This makes your drink more of a carbonated agua fresca. Pour any remaining simple syrup into an empty bottle and refrigerate. It's a wonderful way to sweeten your iced tea!
Step 5: Carbonate Your Soda
Pour the juice mixture into the siphon, making sure not to exceed the maximum capacity, and seal the lid. Add a soda charger - a small carbon dioxide canister - to the reservoir and screw it into place. Once you hear the gas enter the chamber with the juice, you can give the siphon a good shake to speed the carbonation, and place it in the refrigerator. Carbon dioxide dissolves best in cold liquid, so you'll get more bubbles that way. Let your soda creation sit in the refrigerator for about half an hour.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Once your soda is cold and you're ready to drink it, remove it from the refrigerator. Before you serve your soda, you'll need to release the pressure from the siphon canister. You do this by depressing the lever to allow all of the gas to escape while the canister is in an upright position. Then it's safe to unscrew the lid and pour your fizzy treat! By varying the juice used and the flavorings in the simple syrup, the creative soda combinations are endless. You can also make a soda from your favorite flavored simple syrup and water alone, or use only juice with no extra sweetener.
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