Emily Ho, an LA-based food writer (misschiffonade.com), loves to make her own sodas using seasonal fruits, herbs, and spices. She has two methods: one fresh, combining homemade syrup with soda from her home water carbonator, and the other bottled, using yeast to carbonate the soda naturally through fermentation. For the fresh version, find Fresh Citrus Lemongrass Soda on MyRecipes.
1 large red or pink grapefruit
2 stalks lemongrass
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/8 teaspoon neutral-flavored ale yeast such as Coopers
1-gal. glass or plastic container
9 (12-oz.) beer bottles and caps
Large metal bowl for draining bottles
Metal stirring spoon
Beer bottle capper, such as the Emily capper
How to Make It
Peel wide strips of zest (avoiding the bitter white pith underneath) from half the grapefruit and the whole lime. Juice grapefruit and lime into a liquid measuring cup (add water to reach 1 cup if needed). Pour into a 6- to 8-qt. pot and add zest strips.
Cut off green tops from lemongrass (about half the stalk) and peel first two outer layers from stalks. Mash stalks with a meat mallet and cut into 2-in. pieces. Add to pot of juices along with sugar, honey, and 3 1/2 qts. water.
Heat citrus lemongrass mixture over medium-high heat, covered, until boiling; boil 1 minute, then remove from heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, mix up your sanitizing solution using SaniClean and water (follow instructions on SaniClean label). Sanitize all equipment except the capper; invert bottles into bowl to drain. Let everything air-dry.
Strain sweet citrus lemongrass water through a fine-mesh strainer into sanitized 1-gal. container. You should have about 2 in. headspace; if you don't, add lukewarm water until you do. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water and stir into container. Cover container with a double layer of cheesecloth, secure with a rubber band around the lid, and set in a warm place for 2 hours.
Stir mixture thoroughly, then use funnel to slowly pour soda into bottles, leaving 2 in. headspace. Cap bottles with capper and shake each bottle. Let bottles sit at room temperature for 1 to 3 days, opening a bottle each day until you like how it tastes and how much fizz it has. When you like it, chill the bottles.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per bottle.
This fermented version is ever so slightly alcoholic, and has a lively fizz. You will need a light ale yeast (it comes in dried granules, like bakers' yeast), such as Coopers; beer bottles and caps; SaniClean solution; and an easy-to-use inexpensive beer bottle capper, such as the Emily capper model. Find all of these at home brewing shops or online (such as morebeer.com).