Typical PNW summers are veritable painter’s palate of gastronomic inspiration. The cool, often rainy climate gives way for extended weeks of sunny days, mostly moderate temperatures, and a respite from the rain of the other seasons. Berries, wild and cultivated, and gardens and fields full of edible flowers beckon. It is a wildcrafter’s dream.
I can also say that I draw a tremendous amount of inspiration from my friends and idols via Instagram – I am not afraid to admit that I love scrolling through picture after amazing picture of the various creations these people make. About a year ago, gorgeous wildcrafted soda pictures started showing up in my feed, via the one, and only Pascal Baudar (and then everybody that was so inspired), as his new book The New Wildcrafted Cuisine hit the shelves.
Wildcrafted cuisine had arrived.
Personally, I love the concept of the wildcrafted soda. These semi-fermented beverages capture the essence of the season at that very moment. A Polaroid of seasonality. There need not be a plan when one creates a wildcrafted soda. Just open your eyes and your nose to the edible bounty around you.
My particular version of wildcrafted soda uses the first of the regions fresh raspberries, and a mixture of wild and cultivated herbs and flowers. Lavender, anise hyssop, lemon balm, and elderflower play a beautifully with the more pronounced flavors of pineapple weed, yarrow, and the berries. Slices of organic lemon adds acidity, providing balance and refreshing character. Local wildflower honey offers a subtle sweetness and nourishment for the wild yeast and bacteria that promote the gentle fizz of the resulting wildcrafted soda.
Wildcrafted soda requires only creativity, and knowledge of edibility, and little sugar or honey, and just a little bit of patience. One can certainly kick off fermentation with a tiny pinch of yeast like this, or simply wait for the native yeasts and bacteria to take hold. Once the mixture starts to bubble it is a mere 24-48 hours to bottle, and another few hours to rebuild carbonation. This wildcrafted soda is not fussy business. Please note that this “soda” will contain some alcohol due to yeast.
Looking for more ways to savor the wildcrafted flavor of summer? Try this foraged berry sorbet.
Wildcrafted Soda Recipe
Summer-y Wildcrafted Soda
Wildcrafted soda is a unique and flavorful way to capture the essence of the season. Raspberries, wildflowers, and herbs offer enchanting flavor and color.
- 1/2 gallon spring water approximately
- 2 cups rinsed and chopped herbs and wildflowers I include pineapple weed, yarrow, lemon balm, elderflower, anise hyssop, lavender, and a bit of chamomile
- 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
- 1/2 cup raw wildflower honey
- 1 organic lemon sliced
- pinch wine yeast optional
Over the next 24-48 hours (sooner if using a yeast like this), you should see bubbling in the jar, signaling fermentation. Allow to ferment for 24-48 hours, tasting occasionally.
When the desired level of fermentation is complete, pour wildcrafted soda through a fine mesh sieve lined with muslin into a bowl or eight cup measuring cup. Pour into sterilized bottles like these. Cap tightly and allow to continue to ferment at room temperature for 8-16 hours. Test for desired “fizziness” (opening the bottle carefully by applying pressure to the lid while releasing the bracket on a swing top bottle) and refrigerate when you are happy with the wildcrafted soda. Please note that the contents of the bottle may be under pressure -- please be careful.
Wildcrafted soda is not intended for aging. Drink this goodness within two weeks and enjoy the season!