Turn fresh fruit and herbs into a refreshing strawberry soda! Lightly fizzy and sweet (but not cloying) with the subtle pepperiness of basil, Strawberry-Basil Soda is a perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer afternoon.
June and July are two of my favorite months in New Jersey. Blue skies and warm breezes make for perfect weekend afternoons by the pool and al fresco dining at night. I savor it, especially knowing that it’ll only be a matter of weeks before August’s sticky humidity sets in.
If they didn’t spoil so quickly, they would, without question, cause me to develop a hoarding habit in my produce drawer.
What’s your favorite summer produce where you live? Tell me in the comments!
Farm Fresh Strawberry Soda
A few summers ago, I had the most delicious mixed-to-order fruit sodas at a farm market cafe. It only took one sip of their Strawberry Basil Soda (called a “Market Fizz”) to reel me in for the entire season.
The combination of fresh fruit syrup with chilled sparkling water is so refreshing. It’s pleasantly fizzy and just sweet enough, with a hint of basil in the background wakes up your tastebuds.
I thought it was the perfect drink to cool down with on a hot afternoon. It wasn’t long before I was experimenting with making my own version at home. Good news: it’s incredibly easy to make.
Making Strawberry Syrup at Home
When I first set out to make Strawberry-Basil Soda, I knew that I would need some combination of fruit, herbs, and sugar. But, I wasn’t sure which drink-making method (muddling, macerating, steeping, or simmering) would produce the best syrup.
I loved that steeping preserved the fruit’s fresh flavor, but hated the lengthy wait time. Simmering pureed fruit in the base for simple syrup (equal quantities of sugar and water) tasted good, but I found that too long a simmer dulled the strawberries’ fresh-from-the-farm quality.
Equipment you’ll need: A blender or food processor, a saucepan, a fine mesh sieve, and a jar to store the syrup.
In the end, a short simmer on the stove (5 to 8 minutes, plus cooling time at room temperature) was just enough to bring out the flavors of the fruit and herbs and preserve their brightness, without having to resort to an overnight steeping process.
I decided to strain the solids from the cooled syrup before mixing it in a glass with the fizzy water. Personally, I find the strawberry seeds can be a bit much in the glass without straining since they’re so tiny and there are so many of them.
The syrup keeps well for a week or two in the refrigerator, tightly covered. I usually keep it for about 10 days (if there’s any left by then!).
Strawberry Soda Variations
One of the benefits to making fresh fruit soda at home is that it’s completely customizable, not to mention a great way to use up strawberries that are starting to become overripe.
Prefer a lighter flavor? Add less syrup to your glass. Don’t like basil? Give it a try with fresh thyme, mint, or leave out the herbs entirely.
Plain strawberry syrup is delicious stirred into milk for kids, or nostalgic 30-somethings. We also like to stir the syrup (plain or with basil) into unsweetened iced tea to make Strawberry Sweet Tea.
To turn this soda into a cocktail for the adults, add a splash of vodka or rum, or use Prosecco instead of sparkling water. You can also use it to make a summery spin on a Gin and Tonic.
Your Recipe Questions
Q. Can I use different sweeteners?
A. Yes. Instead of granulated sugar, you can try light brown sugar, turbinado sugar (raw sugar), honey, or agave. The ratios are still 1 cup water to 1 part sweetener. To make this with stevia, you’ll need about 2 tablespoons of powder to 1 cup of water (adjust to taste).
Q. Can I make this with other berries or fruit?
A. I haven’t made this particular soda recipe with other fruit, but I don’t see why you couldn’t try it with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, pitted cherries, or even a combination. If you experiment with it, let me know which you like best.
Strawberry Basil Soda
- 1 pound strawberries , cleaned and trimmed (plus additional for garnish)
- 1 cup still water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup loosely-packed basil leaves , torn (plus additional whole leaves for garnish)
- chilled sparkling water , for serving
- Puree strawberries in a blender or food processor.
- In a medium saucepan, combine still water, granulated sugar, strawberry puree, and basil. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Strain cooled mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to extract juices. Discard solids. Chill syrup until ready to use.
- Pour a few tablespoons of strawberry basil syrup into a glass (use more or less, to taste). Fill with ice and sparkling water. Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil and a fresh strawberry slice.
This recipe originally appeared on Striped Spatula on June 28, 2014. It has been updated with new photos and article copy to answer reader questions.