I rediscovered the Italian Soda when I was pregnant with our second child and had a serious coffee aversion. Not wanting to give up a weekly coffeehouse ritual, I had to find something lighter. I thoroughly enjoyed the blueberry soda lovingly mixed by our favorite baristas, and I resolved to buy syrup during our grocery run so that I could recreate the treat at home. Alas, I read the labels before purchasing: high-fructose corn syrup appeared on several, artificial colors/dyes were listed on all of them except the “organic” versions ($12/bottle). I’ve made fruit syrups from scratch for desserts – how hard could it be to use the same techniques to make soda syrup?
- 2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
- 1 cup water
- 3 oz. sugar
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- Sparkling water
- Combine berries and water in saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Push the mix through a fine-mesh strainer to get all of the juice out of the berries. The spent skins make a pretty tasty puree – awesome on some lemon sorbet or something else sweet.
- Return the juice to a pan, add sugar and zest. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then bring the mixture to a boil and cook 2 minutes.
- Pour syrup through cheesecloth to take out any remaining seeds or clumps of zest.
- Cool, then store in airtight container in the refrigerator.
When it’s time for the soda:
- Pour 8 oz. sparkling water over ice.
- Add 1/4 cup of the syrup.
- Stir and taste. If you like it sweeter, add more syrup – after you have done this a few times, you will know exactly how you like it, so this process becomes very quick and easy.
You can make the syrup with any fruit – you will need to adjust the sugar levels, depending on the sweetness of the fruit.