When I was a kid, out at summer barbecues, I always went hunting through the coolers for the grape soda. So when Toronto got sweaty in a heatwave this August, and I just happened to be at home for a few weeks without any workshops to travel for, I got brewing some batches of kombucha and I wanted grape soda. One of the things I love about kombucha is those tiny armies of fizzy bubbles created during the second fermentation. Grapes create even more fizz than usual because of their sugar content, so I was excited for this batch but I also knew that the colour would pose some challenges. The grape soda of my childhood was a deep, artificial purple. If I wanted to get a colour that popped, it wouldn’t come from grapes alone. There are a couple of reasons for this, one of which you can see below:
Red grapes are not actually red inside! Mind = blown. This was something I’d probably known my entire life but I didn’t actually pay attention to it until I wanted grape soda kombucha. There are types of grapes that are darker inside but the grocery stores close to me didn’t have any and you might find that they’re a lot more expensive. Super key reminder: the skins need to come off because they’ll make your kombucha bitter. So you’ll be spending time popping grape insides out of grape skins. It’s an opportunity to spend some time mindfully loving your grapes!
Because my grape juice was a disappointing light greenish colour and I wasn’t trying to make prosecco kombucha, I needed a secret ingredient to get some deep faux-grapeyness: beets!
Not only will beets turn your kombucha purple, they’ll stain everything else they come in contact with, like your cutting board, your hands, your wedding dress you love to wear when you prepare kombucha. So just make sure you rethink your fashion choices when working with beets.
There’s one other secret ingredient here that’s not grapes: apple. Get a type of apple that’s crisp and bright. Basically anything other than a delicious or macintosh. The apple will make the brew that much more refreshing.
In terms of amounts, it really depends on the size of your brewing vessel, so I just look at proportions. I’ve given some sample ingredient amounts below but you can be flexible with them. I did equal amounts of beet and apple–make sure you peel them! And for the grapes, I added slightly more and made sure to smush the grapes as much as possible to get the juices out.
Grape Soda Kombucha Ingredients
- A bunch of grapes
- 1 medium red beet
- 1 apple
- Maple syrup (Because why not? Grape soda was mostly high-fructose corn syrup, anyway. We’re going for accuracy here :D)
Grape Soda Kombucha Instructions
- Get your first brew ready and try some. Knowing how sweet or sour it is before starting your second fermentation will help you gauge the amounts of ingredients to add (particularly the maple syrup) and you’ll deepen your understanding of what happens during the second fermentation when you try it again in a few days and that will make you a more awesome kombucha master.
- Peel everything (including every single one of those tiny grapes) and chop the apple and beet into smaller chunks that are easy to handle in your brewing vessel.
- Throw your grapes, apple, and beet into the brewing vessel with your initial brew.
- You may not need maple syrup but if you think it’ll benefit your brew because the kombucha tasted too sour for you, add some in.
- Leave at room temperature for a couple of days, burping occasionally. Then throw it in the fridge to stop the fermentation and drink up!
Look at that beautiful colour! The beets make it so vibrant and you’ll see fluorescent pinks and reds that look more artificial than anything artificial can create. I’ll try to brew a bright pink cream soda kombucha in the future but first I have to drink all of this grape soda while the summer’s still hot 🙂