Lavender can be tricky to use. Very often it can make your sodas taste like soap or cheap perfume. Nevertheless I thought it might “pair” well with a fairly sweet pear juice that I found at my local supermarket.
I’ve never made pear soda before so this is a learning experience for all of us. Bottled juice is generally fairly sweet and I don’t usually add much sugar to the fermenter. The label on this one says 29 grams of sugar for each 8 ounce serving. That’s a lot of sugar so I only added a couple of loosely packed tablespoons of dark brown sugar this time around.
Whenever I use lavender, I use both stems and dried flowers. The stems actually have a better flavor than the flowers but I still add flowers since they tend to have a stronger scent and have more of what we tend to think is lavender flavor.
This is the recipe for a half gallon batch of soda:
- 1 sprig of chopped lavender stems (I used English Lavender)
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
- 1 32 ounce bottle of Pear juice
- Water to fill the fermenter.
- 2 tablespoons loosely packed brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ale yeast
Boil the lavender stems and flowers with about 1.5 cups of pear juice. Once it stars boiling, cover the saucepan and take it off the heat. Let it infuse for about 30 minutes.
Strain the infusion into a half gallon mason jar and add the remaining pear juice to the jar. Top off the jar with clean water to the shoulder of the jar. Taste for sweetness and adjust as needed. (This is where I determined to add the brown sugar.)
Cover and shake for about 20 seconds to oxygenate the juice. Yeast likes oxygen. After shaking, add the yeast and let it flocculate a bit before covering and shaking again. Usually I use champagne yeast but I decided to try US-05 dry ale yeast to see what would happen. Yeasts have different flavor profiles and I will probably write a post all about yeast at some point in the future.
After shaking, cover the jar with a grommeted lid and airlock. Add a little water bit of water to the airlock. Ferment until you see bubbles coming into the airlock. This is an indication that fermentaion has started and you may now bottle your soda.
A half gallon recipe yields about three 16 or 17 ounce bottles of soda. Make sure to only use flip top bottles that can handle high-pressure liquids.
After bottling let the bottles sit away from sunlight for about 24 hours the put the bottles into the refrigerator. They will continue to ferment, but at a much slower pace. Drink soda within a 7 to 8 days.
Moment of Truth
I tasted this one about 4 days after putting it the refrigerator. The weather has been a bit chilly and not great for cold soda drinking. The first thing I noticed about the flavor is that it had a carmel or maltier flavor than most of my other sodas. I don’t think it had anything to do with the brown sugar. I am conviced that since I used beer yeast instead of champagne yeast it added the malt flavor.
The soda tastes good but I think the brightness of the lavender and pear was overshadowed by the malt. Next time I’ll stick with champagne yeast. It’s always good to try new things, though.