Suddenly Sauer: Preserving Food and Tradition in a Modern World

The Great (Mint Soda) Debacle
July 26, 2010, 2:11 pm
Filed under: beverages, Pickled Anything

For the last month or so, my soda making has been at a standstill.

Those who’ve innocently inquired as to “how it’s going” have been greeted with an earful about my insufficient scientific method, my failed attempts, confusion, research, lacto-bacilli, CO2, whey, and so on and so forth.

what was holding me up, in truth, were the 12 bottles of MOROCCAN MINT TEA SODA, idly fermenting away in one of my kitchen cupboards.

I had put up the soda at the beginning of May.  12 bottles (roughly 1.5 gallons) and a week later, then another week later, and ultimately a full month later, their bacterial activity was for all intents and purposes dead as a doornail.

With each increasingly anxiety filled unveiling, I would hold the cobalt blue bottle to my face and gently pop the lid, cursing under my breath (and, finally, very much aloud) as only the tinniest whisper of CO2 escaped.

The mystery of the non-fermenting-nor-spoiling soda was heightened when one out of twelve bottles popped open with a perfectly fermented fizz and a fantastic flavor to boot!  Why would one in 12 bottles successfully carbonate while the others were all, with certainty, dudds.

Cursing the gods, I poured the unfermented sodas into ice cube trays and popsicle molds and defeatedly sucked on them through the hottest days of summer.  I left one jar in the cupboard, however, and when it had still failed to come to life 6 weeks later, I decided to top it off with a bit of extra whey.

two weeks later, I returned from a road trip, popped the top, and was delighted, yes overjoyed, to find that the soda had finally carbonated!

it is thus my pleasure to report the following lessons:

1) I think the whey settled a bit out of solution and the one bottle’s success was a result of its containing more whey than the other bottles.

2) I think some simple syrups, particularly those made with potentially anti-microbial ingredients (green tea? mint?) require more whey than others.  Knowing exact amounts will take some experimenting… but it’s good to have the variable at least pinpointed.

3) Moroccan mint tea soda is yummy.  I think I’ll give this one another go WITH the extra whey from the start.


1 gallon water

3 cups sugar

1/2 lb fresh mint

2 Tbs gunpowder green tea

1/2 gallon cold water

2 cups whey (note** this is an estimate of what i think might be a more accurate amount.  I’ll update this recipe once I’ve made another successful batch of soda)

IN a large pot, bring the water to boil with the sugar.  Once the sugar is dissolved and the water has boiled, turn the heat off and add the fresh mint and green tea.  Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.  Strain the mixture into a large bowl.  add the cold water and let cool (cover with cheesecloth to keep it clean).  Once mixture has cooled, add whey, stir, and bottle!  Should take 1 week to ferment*** again that is subject to further experimentation.