Citrus Leaf Soda
Citrus leaves are not usually available in most grocery stores, but every so often when it's the season of citrus, you can find some leaves still attached to the stems of the fruit.
Citrus leaves have a fragrant smell similar to their respective fruit, and can often be used as alternatives for Bay Leaves in cooking.
But I find that they make excellent sodas because of their fresh and fragrant flavors, and in this post, I'll show you how to do just that!
All you'll need are:
Citrus leaves (I'm using mandarin leaves)
Soda or Seltz Siphon (I'm using a Twist & Sparkle but any carbonation device will work)
Rich Syrup (2:1 ratio of Sugar to Water)
Make Citrus Leaf Water
Before making the soda, you should first prep your leaves.
Whenever you're dealing with produce that has high amounts of chlorophyll, it's always a good idea to blanch them first.
Blanching will not only give your ingredients more vibrant green colors but will also highlight some of the best flavors that are trapped inside the leaves as well as remove any bitterness. So before you begin making the soda, start by:
Washing your Leaves,
Placing them in boiling water for 30 seconds,
Removing and placing them in an ice bath for at least 5 minutes.
Now your citrus leaves are ready to be infused with water.
Before adding any carbonation to make the soda, you first need to make a flavored water out of them.
The amount of soda that you would like to make depends on how many leaves you have at your disposal.
1 Liter of Soda will require at least 20g of leaves.
Stay around this ratio, because too few leaves will make the soda taste weak while too many will make it astringent and bitter-tasting. For my recipe, I'm going with 500ml of water and 10g of fresh leaves.
Measure the leaves using a scale and place both ingredients in a blender.
Blend them for at least 1 minute and a half to ensure that the leaves are properly crushed and the water is colored green/yellowish.
Now it's time to strain the little bits of leaves out. It's important that even the smallest particles get strained out so that the carbonation will work more efficiently.
I'm using a coffee filter to remove every bit of leaf out, and once removed, your infused water should look like this.
Now it's time to accentuate the leaf's flavor with a few ingredients.
For 500ml of infused water, add 80ml of Rich Syrup and 4g of citric acid.
Using these measurements will give enough balance to the drink, but they can be adjusted to your own preference of taste.
Finally, add just a touch of salt (a pinch will do) and stir all the ingredients until they dissolve.
The combinations of these flavors almost make it taste like a flat lemon soda or sprite, with just a touch of astringency and an lovely grassy flavor.
Now it's time to carbonate.
Before you carbonate your flavored water, it's important that you get it as cold as possible.
Stick it in the fridge until it is cold and just as you would carbonate regular water, use your siphon, isi, or soda streamer to carbonate it.
I'm using an is Twist & Sparkle siphon because it's transparent and will be able to show you what's happening, but the isi Whipper Siphon works even better because of its metal structure.
If you are using an isi siphon like mine, place a C02 charger to carbonate it. I find that 1 does just the trick for 500ml of water, but you could even go with 2 to make it even more bubbly.
Carbonation not only adds a popping and tingling texture to drinks, but also makes the citrus leaf water taste fresher and 'brighter'.
Once carbonated, pour yourself a glass and have a taste.
Depending on which leaves you used, you'll notice the taste of the citrus fruit within the soda. Because I'm using mandarin leaves, my soda tastes like it has a hint of mandarine in it.
How to Use in Cocktails
A simple Vodka or Gin & Soda will work well with this drink. Add some fresh lemon or lime juice to the mix and you'll get an even more refreshing drink.
Try it in cocktails that are primarily soda-based: Vodka Soda, Tom Collins, or pretty much any Highball.
One of the best cocktails that come to mind is a twist on a Gin Ricky, a low sugar drink with a dry finish.
So why not make it more interesting with some citrus leaf soda?
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