Well, it looks like Summer has finally hit Wisconsin, at least I hope it has. The weekend was warm and the last few days have been in the upper 70’s. And while I like all the seasons, it has been a long, cold, wet Spring and I’m ready for some warmer weather. In anticipation of the warmer temperatures, I mixed up a trio of syrups to make homemade soda with, although these syrups would be great in a variety of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

The main inspiration for making the syrups though was my Sodastream machine, a birthday gift a year and a half ago. While I love the machine, most of their flavoring syrups leave something to be desired. I don’t mind their “diet” syrups but even their “regular” syrups contain artificial sweeteners. And besides, they are loaded with chemicals and preservatives. Why not make your own? It’s simple, they taste great, and you know exactly what is in it.

While all of these syrups are full sugar syrups, at least they don’t contain high fructose corn syrup, and unlike store bought soda, you can determine exactly how much syrup you want to add, helping to regulate how much sugar you put into your body. I’m thinking I might also try to make a few diet versions, but that will have to wait for another time.

This time the 3 syrups I made were Gingered Rhubarb, Lemon-Lime (a variation on the Sour Mix I made for Whiskey Sours) and Lemon Balm, one of my favorite summertime herbs. To turn the syrups into soda, combine 2 ounces of syrup with 6 ounces of soda water, either made in your own carbonation machine or purchased in the form of soda water. Pour both over ice and gently stir to combine. The 2:6 ratio is just a start. If you want it sweeter or more flavorful add a bit more, and if you want a lighter flavor or less sugar add less, it’s up to you.

Most syrups will last, at least, a week or 2 in the fridge although I would try to use herb flavored syrups up within a week as after that the quality of the flavors will start to deteriorate.

Gingered Rhubarb Syrup

2 1/2 cups Water
2 1/2 cups Sugar, granulated
1/2 cup Ginger, fresh, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cups Rhubarb, roughly chopped
Grenadine (optional)

In a non-reactive sauce pot combine the sugar and water. Add the ginger and rhubarb and bring to a boil. Cook until the rhubarb falls apart, then remove from heat. Allow to steep for 10 minutes then strain out all the fibers, pushing on the pulp to remove as much liquid as possible. Allow to cool to room temperature, bottle and store in the fridge.

If, like me, you aren’t blessed with red rhubarb you can do what I do and add a few drops of grenadine to the syrup to give it a light pink blush.

Lemon-Lime Syrup

2 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 cups Water
1 cup Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup Lime juice, freshly squeezed

Combine the sugar and water in a small pot, bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the lemon and lime juice to remove any and all pulp and add to the cooled simple syrup. Chill until ready to use. Because of the additional sugar, as compared to the original Sour Mix recipe, this syrup will keep longer without a loss in quality of flavor for up to 2 weeks or so.

Lemon Balm Syrup

2 cups Water
2 cups Sugar, granulated
3-4 cups Lemon Balm leaves, freshly picked

Combine water and sugar, in a small pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon balm leaves. Allow to steep for 10 minutes. Strain, allow to cool to room temperature, bottle and chill. Use within 1 week.
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