Grape Soda Culture

Today [5-8-15] was bottling day for the Grape Soda Culture. I learned from my last batch of strawberry soda to bottle on the 3rd day and not wait til the 4rth day. The culture is still very active producing CO2 on the 3rd day and much of the sugar has been consumed by the lacto-ferment critters, but there is enough sugar for them to continue to feed and make more CO2 inside the bottle to make the great fizzy soda taste. Those lacto-fermenting critters are beneficial microorganisms known as the probiotics. The World Health Organizations has stated, ‘Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’ [1]       Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health – NCBI [4]

The strawberry soda batch 2 that I bottled on the 4rth day is still very good and tangy but it is not sweet, it is quite dry and not fizzy. I believe that is because there wasn’t enough sugar left in the soda culture when I bottled it for the probiotics to produce anymore CO2 inside the bottle. I also want to mention that I check for pH level in all of my fermented sodas and kombucha. It is one easy indicator that you have a safe culture that is beneficial. Kombuchas and Fermented Sodas are in the acid range around 3, sodas are a bit higher such as 3.6 and kombuchas can be as low as 2.5. Soda cultures (fermented sodas) take much less time than kombucha and fermented sodas need stirring to encourage the lacto-fermented process to grow probiotics fast so that no bad bacteria can get a foothold. Did you know that most bad bacteria can’t live in acid pH environment below 4.6? Bad bacteria such as the dreaded botulism bacterium Clostridium botulinum  for instance can’t grow in pH less than 4.6 [2]  Another thing about pH level of foods and beverages that is misunderstood is the relationship to what forms acid in our bodies. Just because the food is acidic does not mean it is acid forming once eaten. It is known that lemons although an acidic fruit actually reduces acid in the stomach when consumed. Another is the lacto-fermented food and drinks with low pH levels are loaded with lactic acid which is produced during the fermentation process. Heartburn is often blamed on too much acid in the stomach and acidic foods are often times blamed for causing heartburn but while acid reflux and heartburn seem to only involve the stomach, studies show that there is more to the story. “Heartburn may actually be a sign of a wounded inner ecosystem. The burning sensation that arises during heartburn has more to do with too little stomach acid—rather than too much.” [3]

I made this recipe myself using the basic knowledge I have acquired from the many sources of research I’ve done over these past few months. It is really good, I been drinking some every day – have to test it – and my 16 year old granddaughter gave me the best endorsement that I could possibly get when she tasted it last night, she said, “it tastes just like Welch’s grape juice but fizzy, I’ll take as many bottles of this as you will give me!”

I am very careful to be sanitary. I scrub and wash everything, I have not included all the sanitation steps with the recipe and if you try to make it yourself be sure you make sure everything is not only clean but also sanitized. I  keep the opening of the vessel covered at all times with a coffee filter secured by a rubber band. I have a lot of those coffee filters left over from when I used to have a Mr Coffee maker. I will warn you that if you try to culture sodas don’t use cheese cloth to cover the vessel opening. The weave of cheesecloth is too loose of a weave and it will let gnats into your vessel. You can use a  tight weave fabric such as 300 thread count or better. I plan to make some covers from 100% cotton fabric. I also have purchased the diamond crusted drill hole saw bit to drill the glass lids that came with these 2 gallon decanters and I will eventually get up the courage to drill the hole for the gasket to use an airlock in – I used to drill granite and tile so I feel confident that I can also cut glass, using water to keep the bit and glass cool while the hole saw cuts through the glass. I’ll do a post on that process when I finally get around to doing it.

Here below are the pictures of my process to make the Grape Soda Culture.

Following the pictures is my recipe. Below that is the Reference section.

GrapesodaCultureDay0a

This is day 0 when I started the grape culture.

GrapesodaCultureDay0

This is day 0 when I started the grape culture, see also the ginger bug in smaller jar to left side of the 2 gallon jar of grape soda culture.

GrapesodaCultureDay1

Day 1 – culture is starting – stir often to encourage the probiotics to grow. The first day the culture is starting to grow, it looks different from the way the strawberry and pineapple looked, so I was a bit concerned at first, but I stirred often the first day.

GrapesodaCultureDay1a

Day 1 -culture is starting – stir often to encourage the probiotics to grow. The first day the culture is starting to grow, it looks different from the way the strawberry and pineapple looked, so I was a bit concerned at first, but I stirred often the first day.

GrapesodaCultureDay1b

Day 1 – culture is starting – stir often to encourage the probiotics to grow. The first day the culture is starting to grow, it looks different from the way the strawberry and pineapple looked, so I was a bit concerned at first, but I stirred often the first day.

GrapesodaCultureDay1nite

Day 1 – night – the culture is growing nicely from stirring during the day. All the stirring during the day on this first day paid off with the culture growing very nicely. This is good sign of the probiotic making activity.

GrapesodaCultureDay1nite1

Night of Day 1 Grape Soda Culture – culture is growing nicely. All the stirring during the day on this first day paid off with the culture growing very nicely. This is good sign of the probiotic making activity.

 

Grape soda Culture Day 2

Grape soda Culture Day 2, The culture on the second day was getting very foamy and foamed up nicely when stirred.

 

Grapesoda Culture on Day 2- very foamy when stirred

Grape soda Culture on Day 2- very foamy when stirred

Grapesoda Culture on Day 2- very foamy when stirred

Grape soda Culture on Day 2- very foamy when stirred. Be sure to cover as soon as you stir it.

 

Be sure to keep covered with the cloth (coffee filter)  as soon as you stir it, so to avoid any contamination.

Grapesoda Culture on Day 3- ready to bottle

Grape soda Culture on Day 3- ready to bottle. As you can see I have the bottles ready next to the vessel of grape soda. The new vessel with serving spout at bottom makes bottling very easy and even enjoyable now.

 

Grapesoda Culture on Day 3- during bottling process

Grape soda Culture on Day 3- during bottling process. As you can see, I have about half of the grape soda bottled up in this picture.

 

I use a variety of glass bottles that I save. I try to use bottles that are about 12oz to 16oz. You can probably tell what these bottles used to contain when I bought them. Several are the Heinz 57 chili sauce, a couple are Vermont maple syrup bottles, one is a balsamic vinegar bottle, a couple are fliptops and one is the large clear flip top I just purchased at Gary’s Home Brew Supply. I get a lot of supplies from there, they are a family owned and operated local business and he is a member of the Escambia Bay Homebrewers – I am also a member of that great organization!

Grapesoda Culture on Day 3- bottled!

Grape soda Culture on Day 3- bottled! Here you can see in the picture that I have completed the bottling process and the last bit I poured into the glass to enjoy as my reward! YUMMY GOODNESS!

 

I won’t go into all my sanitation methods here but I will say that I wash everything and rinse everything very well then let air dry. Soap residue will inhibit proper growth of the culture. I sanitize using 5% white vinegar. There are other ways of sanitizing I won’t go into here. Vinegar at 5% does the job and it is natural and safe, but be sure to drain well and let air dry.

MY RECIPE: This is to make 2 gallons of grape soda.

I use a 2 gallon glass vessel with easy serve tap at the bottom.

One (3 QT) family size Welch’s pure concord grape juice ( use this because no added sugar, no preservatives or anything that will interfere with the culture process )

One QT (4 cups) Ginger Bug ( CLICK HERE FOR GINGER BUG )

One gallon spring water or filtered water ( don’t use tap water because the chlorine and other chemicals will keep the culture from growing properly )

2-1/2 cups sugar

Pour the grape juice and the ginger bug into the vessel, stir well and cover with cloth cover and rubber band.

Pour spring water into stainless steel or enamel pot and heat slightly, stir in sugar until dissolved and remove water from stove. Let cool to room temperature or at least to below 100 F and then add to the grape juice mixture and stir well, cover and let set. This is day 0, and depending on what time of the day you made your culture you may need to stir it several times before going to bed. I try to stir at least 4 times within a 24 hour period.

Next day check on your soda culture first thing in the morning and stir it, cover again and let set. Be sure to use a clean stirring instrument each time wash it immediately and set up to dry. I use a plastic spatula. If you use metal be sure it is stainless steel. If you use wood, be sure it is sanitized – wood harbors germs. Stir often during the day to encourage probiotic growth.

On day 3 have your bottles ready and sanitized, then stir the culture one more time very well, cover again, and start bottling. Be careful when filling, tilt bottle so that the liquid runs down side of bottle inside the bottle to avoid a lot of foam from coming out out of the neck of the bottle.

References:

[1] World Health Organization Paper 85 – Probiotics in food – ISSN 0254-4725

[2] Preventing Foodborne Illness: Clostridium botulinum1

[3] Acidic Foods and Acid-Forming Foods: Do you know the difference? 

 [4] Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health – NCBI

[UPDATE 5-8-15]

I was jolted to glass exploding this afternoon, it was a CO2 bomb and what a sticky mess that was! I will definitely remember this with the next batch of soda! I guess I should have put the bottles in the fridge earlier today, or at least burped them to see if pressure was building. It was one of my maple syrup bottles, darn it!

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