Thursday, August 18, 2011

Recipe: Cardamom Cream Soda

I first tried Cardamom a few years ago in the form of cardamom ice cream, made locally at an ice cream shop in downtown Bellingham, Washington known as "Mallards". It's a rich, aromatic spice that lends itself well to many dishes-meat, stews, sweets and treats. It's also most widely recognized as one of the components in chai tea.
I decided I wanted to try a cardamom-flavored soda, but I think I may have been overly ambitious with the large amount of ingredients. It produced a very good flavor, but I may have let the yeast work a little too long and ended up with a less then sweet, spicy concoction. Flavorful, to be sure, but not at all what it should have been.

20 cardamom seed pods
1/4 cup of raisins(coarsely chopped)
1 6 inch vanilla bean(cut)
1 sliver of nutmeg(probably too much nutmeg)
1 3 inch cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
2 cups of brown sugar
1 gallon of water
1/8 tsp. yeast

Combine all ingredients besides the cream of tartar and sugar(and yeast) in a large stock pot, and let it steep as it comes to a simmer. Let simmer on heat for 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat, stir in sugar and cream of tartar, and let steep for 20 minutes.  Add 1/2 gallon of cold water(I've found that making the water cold helps quicken the cooling time), strain the mixture into bottling bucket(or strain into a different large stock pot), and let cool to about 90 degrees.
Meanwhile, activate yeast in a cup of brew that is also around 90 degrees, let sit for 5 minutes, and then stir into brew.
Bottle and let sit for 2-3 days until carbonated.
My first and only tester bottle came open after about 2.5 days, and was sufficiently carbonated-it didn't fizz over the top, and had a nice amount of carbonation to go with the flavor. I detected far too much nutmeg in the initial brew, and it kind of overpowers the rest of the flavors besides the cardamom and raisins.
The flavor is very akin to a hard apple cider without the apples or alcohol. It's very crisp, but spicy at the same time. The raisins added a bit of a fruity tang to the mix, but I think less nutmeg would have done the brew well to help bring out the subtle notes of vanilla that were on the lips afterwards.

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