Fruit season has erupted in my home state of North Dakota. After pies, custards, curd, cakes and bars one begins to wonder what else one can do with the abundance of free produce.
The first fruit to poke its head through after the frigid winter is always rhubarb. While rhubarb is delightful in a pie, wonderful in a cake and unique in a curd my favorite uses for the glut of fruit is naturally fermented soda followed very closely by rhubarb schnapps.
First up the soda:
Chop a few stalks of rhubarb to equal about two cups of fruit. Place in a sauce pan and add one cup of sugar, cover with water and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit is soft.
When cool add a couple of tablespoons of kraut juice or whey skimmed off of yogurt. Both work wonderfully and can be used interchangeably. Sometimes I use a 1/4 cup of a previous batch. Your main goal is here is to capture the natural yeasts from the air and by using naturally fermented kraut juice or whey you are simply speeding the process along.
Allow this mixture to sit in a very loosely covered jar (or cheesecloth covered) in order to ferment for a day or two depending on the temperature of your abode. During the summer months when temps are high I generally let it sit for a day. If its cooler it might be a day or two. You are looking for tell tale bubbles along the top and sides of the soda to develop.
Once the bubbles have developed strain off the fruit and bottle. Here you’ll want to cap the bottles tightly, grolsch bottles come in handy. Your objective here is to develop the fizz of a soda. Again let the bottles sit for a day or two depending again on the heat. But no longer. Move to the fridge. Your soda should have a very nice fizz. Be very cautious when you open to avoid having a soda fountain occur. Enjoy!
You can easily vary this recipe adding other fruits and aromatics. Rhubarb pairs well with raspberry, strawberry, ginger and rosemary. Try your own combination!
Check out this link from Mommypotamus for an illustrated recipe.
Another favorite is fruit schnapps. Again rhubarb can be used here. The Kitchn has a great post illustrating the process.
Chop enough rhubarb to equal two cups of fruit. Place in a large jar with a cup of sugar and cover with vodka. Let this mixture sit for several months or until the sugar has dissolved. The longer you let it sit the more mellow the final product. I generally do up a couple of jars during the season and usually remember them some time around Thanksgiving. I then strain off and bottle in pretty bottles for gifts. Again this same recipe lends itself to whatever fruits and aromatics you have in the garden. Favorites here include spruce, raspberry, plum, pear, cherry and apple.
Go and ferment – report back in the comments on what you’ve made! I’m very interested to see what kind of combinations and experiences you have!