Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ginseng Soda

Guess what? I know it's hard to believe (haha), but I have another cookbook that I'm VERY excited about : )

I want to figure out how to make my own energy drinks. Currently, I drink way too many of these...
Which is not terribly healthy, and not to mention, expensive. I would like to learn to make my own, to save money, and adjust the ingredients. Sure, eventually, I'd like to not drink any energy drinks, but I'm not quite there yet.

Needless to say, I was very excited when the Homemade Soda book arrived this week. If I could get one good recipe out of there, that book will more than pay for itself in money NOT spent on GURU energy drinks :) Even if I don't figure out how to make an energy drink, there are many other soda recipes in that book that look delicious, and some are even functional (healthy).

Trivia: Speaking of functional, did you know that flavored "soda" was originally created to mask the bad taste of medicines? That's why soda fountains were in pharmacies. There is a neat article about the history of soda fountains here: Fizzy Taste Bubbles Up From the Past (NPR)
Image source

Yesterday was my first attempt at making one of the recipes in the book. I opted for the "Ginseng Soda" recipe, since it was pretty straightforward and I had all of the ingredients on hand. I made some adaptations, but it was pretty close to the recipe in the book.

Ginseng is a fascinating herb, and it plays an important role in Asian culture and cooking. I encourage you to read more about it. One excellent book I found on this topic is this one, which I borrowed from my local library:

Below is some information about asian ginseng from the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

How Ginseng Is Used
The root of Asian ginseng contains active chemical components called ginsenosides (or panaxosides) that are thought to be responsible for the herb’s medicinal properties. The root is dried and used to make tablets or capsules, extracts, and teas, as well as creams or other preparations for external use.

What Ginseng Is Used For
Treatment claims for Asian ginseng are numerous and include the use of the herb to support overall health and boost the immune system. Traditional and modern uses of ginseng include:
  • Improving the health of people recovering from illness
  • Increasing a sense of well-being and stamina, and improving both mental and physical performance
  • Treating erectile dysfunction, hepatitis C, and symptoms related to menopause
  • Lowering blood glucose and controlling blood pressure
Click here to go to the full page for more information.

OK, now that you know about ginseng- on to the recipe!

Ginseng Soda Recipe
Ginseng Syrup

1 cup filtered water
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 Tbsp powdered ginseng (original recipe called for 4 ginseng tea bags)
1 Tbsp organic agave nectar
1 tsp unflavored rice vinegar

Bring water to a boil, add sugar and stir until dissolved.
The original recipe says to then add the 4 tea bags, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes. I didn't have ginseng tea bags, so I let the sugar syrup cool a little, and then added 1Tbsp powdered ginseng. I'm not sure if that is equivalent, it was just a guess.
Add agave nectar and rice vinegar and stir. Let cool to room temperature. The book says this syrup will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

To make the soda, mix 1/4 cup ginseng syrup with 1 1/4 cup seltzer water. Best served cold.
Honestly, I didn't particularly care for the taste- but that might have been because I used straight ginseng and not the tea bags (might have been too much ginseng). Also, I was impatient and didn't chill the syrup or the seltzer (I just used ice cubes) so my drink was not as cold as I would have liked. Colder would have been better.

It wasn't terrible, I did drink it. But it could have been better. I will try this recipe again, perhaps using tea bags, or finding the right equivalent for the powder. I'm looking forward to trying some of the other recipes in the book- there is a whole chapter on "Herbal Sodas and Healing Waters"!

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