Most grapes come into season in the late summer, so you should be seeing some nice varieties in your local stores and farmer’s markets right about now. You can use any type of grape to make a really good fresh drink: red, black, or even green, seeded or seedless, it doesn’t matter, you’ll be straining out the pulp in this recipe anyway. But do try and taste your grapes before purchasing…I find they can be hit or miss. If they taste great out of hand, they will make a fantastic soda. I happen to love the color and flavor of black grapes, and when I am lucky enough to find them, Concord grapes are the ultimate.
Soda, or pop, depending on where you live, is a beloved American tradition that has become a dietary disaster over the decades. Full of sugar, artificial colorings and chemicals, soft drinks are a nutritional nightmare, especially for kids. But for a homemade fruit soda all you need is a fruit syrup and some sparkling water. Mine is sugar free, with a dash of lemon to give it a pop. If you start your kids on the natural alternative early enough, they’ll never miss the crappy stuff.
I like to store the concentrated grape syrup in a jar or bottle in the fridge and then pour it out over ice in a chilled glass and top with sparkling water as needed. I garnished with bit of fresh basil, but you can also use mint. Kids can concoct their own soda blend as an after school treat, and there’s nothing stopping you from using it as a base for a cocktail or two.
- 1 lb fresh grapes (I used seedless black grapes)
- 1/2 cup water
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- Wash the grapes and put them in a heavy bottomed pot, along with the water and lemon juice. Bring the pot to a simmer and continue simmering for about 2o minutes until the grapes have begun to soften. Smash the grapes with the back of a large spoon as they cook.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until completely blended. Let the machine run long enough to get all the grapes completely pureed.
- Pass the puree through a mesh strainer, pushing lightly, to get the juice through. Discard any pulp, skin or seeds.
- Refrigerate the grape syrup until cold.
- To serve, fill a glass with ice and mix half syrup and half sparking water. Garnish with a sprig of basil or mint.