During the summer, refreshing beverages call to us.  Whether it’s during a picnic, after yard work or at a sporting event, eventually we start to crave a cold, flavorful beverage.  Preferably a fizzy one.

But we know how bad sugary sodas are for us.  They’ve been linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease and can weaken bones, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.  Just one cup of soda has 44 grams of sugar, often coming from high fructose corn syrup.

Still, the loud, winsome call of carbonated beverages tries to outshout the voice of reason and health.  But does it have to be this way?  Homemade fruit and herb sodas are an elegant and much healthier way to refresh on hot July days.

Take this Raspberry Lime Mint soda, for instance.  Using fresh fruit packs in the health benefits.  Raspberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants around, and they’re packed with vitamin C and manganese (which the body needs in order to function properly).  Limes add even more vitamin C to the mix, and they even have antibiotic properties.

Adding fresh herbs will boost your health even further.  The first soda uses fresh peppermint, which many people know aids digestion, freshens breath and soothes an upset stomach (it actually calms down your stomach muscles!), but it is also a good decongestant and can ease symptoms of depression.  The second soda uses fresh basil, which can relieve colds.

And guess what homemade sodas don’t have?  High fructose corn syrup and loads of sugar!  The sweetener comes from honey and from the simple syrups, which can be made with sugar, honey or stevia.  If you’re using honey and sugar, add equal parts water and sweetener.  If you go with stevia, use 1/8 cup stevia to 1 cup water.

And if the health benefits aren’t enough,  the gorgeous color and garnishes make homemade sodas so lovely to serve at the picnic table!

To make these sodas, start with raspberry simple syrup.  Simmer 1 pint of raspberries, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water over low heat for five minutes.  Strain the raspberries with a cheesecloth.  Chill in a mason jar.  Raspberry simple syrup keeps for a week, so it’s a great way to make raspberries last even longer!

Raspberry-Lime-Mint Soda
Author: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons raspberry simple syrup
  • juice from ½ a lime
  • 2-3 crushed mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • mineral water or other sparkling water to fill glass
  • ice
Instructions
  1. Combine raspberry, lime and honey; stir.
  2. Add crushed mint leaves and ice and fill glass with mineral water. Garnish with a lime.

 

Raspberry-Basil Italian Soda
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons raspberry simple syrup
  • Juice from ½ a lime
  • 1-2 chopped basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • mineral water
  • 1 tablespoon half-and-half
Instructions
  1. Combine raspberry, lime and honey; stir.
  2. Add basil, fill glass ⅔ full with mineral water, top off with half-and-half.

Of course, there were oodles of mint sprigs left after making these first two sodas, so I made a mint simple syrup.  Chopping fresh mint was great aromatherapy–the smell of fresh mint filled the kitchen.  I simmered 1 cup roughly chopped mint leaves and stems with 2/3 cup sugar or honey and 2/3 cup water.  This will preserve the mint for up to two weeks, giving me lots of time to experiment with more soda combinations or just add it to iced tea for a delightful minty sweet tea.

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Article written by Rebecca Talbot and coordinated by VanDuzer Design & Marketing for Wolff’s Apple House and may also be syndicated on Fig: West Chester and Rachel’s Farm Table.