When I imagine the perfect strawberry soda, it smells like a Strawberry Shortcake doll and tastes like a strawberry dessert. But most of the strawberry sodas I’ve tried taste more like cherry, if they even taste like fruit at all. Fresh strawberries are everywhere, so it’s the perfect time to make a DIY strawberry soda. (Orange soda fans can try my DIY Orange Soda recipe.) Sometimes a non-alcoholic drink is in order!
This recipe is closer to the store-bought soda flavor of, say, Faygo or Crush—only with the taste of real strawberries. If you want to go for a more subtle or sophisticated flavor, you could add some mint, basil, rosemary or tarragon for added depth and cut back a little on the sugar. Honey and strawberry go together perfectly, so you could also skip the sugar altogether for a healthier option. Raspberries, blueberries and cranberries added to the mix could add some tartness without changing the berry goodness of the drink. As a bonus, the strained berries make a great dessert topping.
If you substitute honey, start with 1 1/3 cups honey as a replacement for the sugar and adjust to taste. If you are using herbs for flavor, add them with the strawberries when making the syrup.
DIY Strawberry Soda
(Makes almost 2 cups of syrup)
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon citric acid
Add strawberries, water, sugar, and citric acid to a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Bottle and refrigerate the cooled syrup. For each serving, mix 1 part syrup with 5 parts seltzer, adjusting to your personal taste. Mix syrup and seltzer on a glass-by-glass basis rather than mixing a large batch and storing it.
Note: Citric acid powder, also known as sour salt, is easy to find at many markets, but you can order it online from Amazon, too. The citric acid is optional but does add tartness to the recipe and extend the shelf life.