Raspberry Lemon Soda (Not So Syrupy) Syrup

bottle

I made this syrup for my friend Cass who recently purchased one of those fizzy drink makers. Someone gifted us with one not that long ago. I have to admit it has been great having one reusable bottle in which to make endless bottles of bubbly water. For those of us who dwell in the city and don’t have the breadth of the suburbs with the huge parking lots and doors on one level that open ever so wide, scaling down is always nice. We’ve carried a lifetime’s worth of bottles and cans on bumpy buses, bag straps slicing through our fingers; up endless flights of stairs to tiny apartments with awkwardly shaped cupboards and weird refrigerators. That said, we’re humans with too much time and money on our hands. Bubbles aren’t enough. We need flavor. And we need to overthink it. I was determined that Ken and I not become soda guzzlers. I grew up drinking way too much diet soda, and I know better now. And the thought of sugared soda, all the time–no way. I am not a medical professional, but you don’t need a degree to figure out just how bad soda is for you. Even carbonated water is acidic enough to reduce the enamel on your teeth. Sugar, phosphorus–terrible for your bones. We won’t even start on artificial sweeteners. Is anybody still reading… ?

When we got the fizzy bubbling machine I looked for something lighter to flavor the water we would have from time to time, something without artificial twists and turns. What I found was “essence” of fruit, in precious little bottles, and it was ridiculously expensive. I also found a lot of vintage-y syrups made by folks who’ve realized there is a huge market for this stuff, and they’re trying to put a healthier spin on it, but there’s still a lot of sugar going on. Anyone can make a tasty soda syrup with sugar and water. I’ve done it myself right here.

But what if you want something less sweet? The “essence” without the hefty price tag? There is, of course, always a simple little squeeze of lime or lemon or grapefruit. But I had my friend Cass on my mind, and he loves raspberries, and I didn’t see that particular flavor on the shelf, so I made this, and he says it’s delicious. Using about 1 teaspoon per serving gives you just a hint of fruit.

Raspberry Lemon Soda Syrup (makes about 1-1/2 cups, or 24 to 72 servings depending on how much you use)

1-10 oz. (284g) bag frozen raspberries, or the equivalent fresh
2 cups (480ml) water
1/4 cup (60ml) apple concentrate (optional) or coconut palm sugar
Juice of 1 lemon, Meyer lemon if you can find it (optional)

Put everything in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. At this point the raspberries should be completely broken down. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a bowl, pressing any liquid out of what remains in the sieve. Discard the seeds and pulp. Return the liquid to the pan and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Let cool and store in a jar in the refrigerator.

The amount you use depends on your taste. For a hint of fruit, add 1 teaspoon per 8 oz. glass. For something sweeter, use 1 tablespoon.