Celery Soda

I have to admit that Celery Soda is not exactly a normal sounding recipe.  While watching Alton Brown whip together this recipe on Good Eats, my first thought was, “Celery WHAT?”  My incredulity notwithstanding, the idea took hold.

And boy did it ever take hold.  My brain kept trying to imagine how a syrup steeped with celery seeds would taste.  It’s not that it was a huge investment in time, resources or money.  It was just two measly tablespoons of celery seed, two cups of sugar and a cup of water. I enjoyed tossing around the idea of the soda almost more than I wanted to make it.  But make it I did.

And I could kick myself for waiting so long.

It’s not good.

It’s great.

It’s more complex than I ever imagined it to be.  Trying to nail down the flavors for description is like trying to get boys into the bath tub.  In a word?  Elusive.  Two words?  Elusive and slippery.  Every time you think you have it it evades you.  But I’ll try.  For you all, I’ll try.

The first impression is not of the sweetness, although it’s right there; your first sense of the syrup is the light smell of celery.  It’s not quite identifiable as celery; it’s a fresh, herbal scent.  And it smells more of celery than it tastes of it.  That light, fresh, herbal taste  is present, but if you didn’t know it was made from celery seed you might not be able to call it.  The biggest ‘A-ha!” moment from the whole experience is that the subtle tongue-tingling feeling that you get when you eat celery is there when you sip the syrup mixed with soda water.  Even that is more of a lower case “Is this celery?” than it is a “Hey!  Celery!”

What is not elusive and slippery about this is how refreshing it is.  My word.  A tall glass of this on a hot day and the world will melt away while you stay cool.  Not as cool as a cucumber but as cool as celery. It cools you on a cellular level.  This is going to be my secret weapon during the dog days this summer.  That is, if we ever get dog days…

According to Alton Brown, the celery syrup in this recipe is invaluable in mixing cocktails.  Feel free to wing it.  Let me know if you come up with something wild and wacky and mixological.  Maybe you’ll invent the newest cocktail craze.  Could happen.  All because of this syrup.

I probably don’t need to tell you this, but I will anyway; this is so much better for you than most off-the-shelf sodas you can buy.  And it’s almost sinfully less expensive than the fancy-pants gourmet and all-natural sodas that are available.  We’re talking about pennies per glass here.  No funky additives, no High Fructose Corn Syrup, no wacky extracts or bizarro unpronounceable ingredients.  Okay, some might argue that Celery Soda is -at the very least- unusual or exotic, but it’s refreshing and really dadburned good!

Psst.   There’s one other thing.  But it’s for adults-only.  I’ve been told by a reliable source that celery (in all it’s forms) has some potent aphrodisiac effects;  so use with caution.  Or without.  Wink wink.

Now you might print this one and  put it in the pile of recipes to try or file it away or bookmark it.  I’m all about that.  But don’t let the hot months get away from you before you try this.

Celery Soda

Scroll to the bottom of this post for an easy print version of this recipe.

from Alton Brown

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 Tablespoons of freshly crushed (lightly) celery seed
  • chilled unflavored seltzer or soda water

Stir the sugar and water together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the celery seeds.  Cover the pan and steep, off of the hot burner, for one hour.

After an hour, it is time to strain.  Line a fine-mesh sieve or colander with dampened fine cheesecloth or coffee filters.  Pour the syrup into the strainer.  If you need to do this in stages, do so, but try not to overflow your cheesecloth or coffee filters as this will allow celery seeds into the syrup.

That wouldn’t be a disaster, but it would at a possibly undesirable textural element to your syrup.  Pour the syrup into a jar, fit on a tight lid and chill completely before use.

To mix a soda:

Pour 2 Tablespoons of chilled syrup into a tall glass with about 1/4 cup of chilled seltzer or soda water.  Stir well to combine so that the syrup is fully integrated into the soda.  Add ice to the glass and fill the rest of the glass with more chilled soda.  Serve immediately.  Ah!

Store unused syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six months.  That’s right!  It lasts for six whole months!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Celery Soda
Author: 
Recipe type: Homemade Soda, Flavoured Syrup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Refreshing, unique, and healthy, an icy glass of this unusual sounding homemade soda really hits the spot on steamy summer days. Serve this alongside grilled hot dogs or hamburgers and potato salad instead of a cola or sweet soda and you will never go back!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 Tablespoons of freshly crushed (lightly) celery seed
  • chilled unflavored seltzer or soda water
Instructions
To Make the Syrup:
  1. Stir the sugar and water together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the celery seeds.
  3. Cover the pan and steep, off of the hot burner, for one hour.
  4. After an hour, it is time to strain. Line a fine-mesh sieve or colander with dampened fine cheesecloth or coffee filters.
  5. Pour the syrup into the strainer. If you need to do this in stages, do so, but try not to overflow your cheesecloth or coffee filters as this will allow celery seeds into the syrup.
  6. Pour the syrup into a jar, fit on a tight lid and chill completely before use.
To Serve as Soda:
  1. Pour 2 Tablespoons of chilled syrup into a tall glass with about ¼ cup of chilled seltzer or soda water.
  2. Stir well to combine so that the syrup is fully integrated into the soda.
  3. Add ice to the glass and fill the rest of the glass with more chilled soda.
  4. Serve immediately. Ah!

 

Comments

  1. says

    WOOT! SO fun to run into another AB fan! We think he rocks. If you liked his celery soda (and I can honestly say that I haven’t tried it because it seems too weird – but now that I’ve seen a review from someone else, gonna have to try it!) try his Ginger ale :) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/ginger-ale-recipe/index.html and Blueberry soda http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/blueberry-soda-recipe/index.html BIG thumbs up from us!

  2. Patrick says

    I’m always asking the newbie questions =).

    For the freshly crushed celery seed would I just put some store bought seed through a fine grinder or how should I go about crushing it?

  3. Rebecca says

    Cathy- I know… but I promise, you’ll get to thinking about it…

    Darcy- I’ll definitely try the blueberry soda. I have to admit, I’m pretty sold on my Dad’s homemade ginger ale so it may be a while before I try AB’s, but I will try it eventually!

    Natalie- I know, how can you argue with scientific reasoning in the kitchen? Well, you just can’t. That’s all. I guess you’ll have to make it.

    Polwig- It is. I promise!

    Pat- That’s not a bad question! Remember, there are no stupid questions. Only stupid people who ask questions, so you’re in the clear. You can either toss them for a few seconds in a cleaned (well cleaned) coffee grinder or put them in a ziploc bag and whack ‘em a few times with a hammer (or lacking a hammer, a heavy book about which you don’t care much or a hard, heavy shoe). They don’t have to be ‘ground’ so much as ‘broken and bruised’. Does that help at all?

  4. says

    My brain has taken hold of the idea of celery soda now too. I always see those seemingly strange flavors of Jones soda at the store and wonder if they are any good. Thanks for writing about this. I’ll definitely try it our this summer.

  5. Sofia says

    Have you never heard of Dr Brown’s Celray Tonic? It’s been around New York City for over 40 years that I know of. It might even come in “diet” but I kind of hope not. Every Jewish Deli in the City carried it… a little harder to find now, but far from impossible.

    • Rebecca says

      Janna- The Jones sodas still frighten me (Turkey dinner? Seriously?) But this is so very good.

      Sofia- I have not ever heard of it. The sum experience of my time in New York City is two very harrowing cab rides to and from the Pier and a couple lay-overs in JFK and nearby Newark… I’ll just have to throw this on the pile of reasons to get there and sight-see…

  6. Sofia says

    Just gooled Dr Browns and even found a source to purchase it. They say it’s been around since 1869.

  7. Rebecca says

    Sofia- I did a little research on it myself just now and found that the stuff sold now uses HFCS as the sweetener. I thought HFCS wasn’t Kosher. Really Kosher, I mean, not the colloquial lower-case ‘k’ kosher. Combine that with my innate frugality and the fact that the homemade stuff is so easy and so good and I’ll be stickin’ with this!

  8. says

    This sounds divine, and my first thought, at the very top of the post, was, “Hmm…I bet this would be GREAT for a summer cocktail.” Must put my mixology hat on, pronto. But I am also wondering if, instead of using celery seed, I could somehow flavor the syrup with the cutting celery that is as big as a house in my garden right now (this would be a plant I had no idea was perennial when I planted it last spring…SURPRISE!) I’ll give it a whirl and report in…

  9. Brenda says

    Yummy! I cook at a small diner in somewhere, Ohio and love to experiment with new tastes. Already a fan of simple syrup flavored with rosemary and turned into a refreshing drink, I figured celery seed could only be a slight deviation. Both you and Alton get a big congrats! I’ve had customers ask what was in my glass. After they have a taste, I just smile and say “old family recipe”. Thanks.

  10. Carol says

    Has anyone tried Dr. Brown’s CelRay soda? If so, how does it compare to this? Dr. Brown’s is so hard to find. I have only found it in Grosse Pointe, Michigan at a little carry out place called Dish. If this is comparable or better that would be great!

  11. Bones says

    I discovered Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray in Atlanta. It’s probably my favorite soda. It’s sold in the international/kosher section of some of the bigger Publix grocery stores. Some Publix’s have other Dr. Brown’s flavors but not Cel-Ray. You have to go to where ever there is a large Jewish population. I think its taste is closest to ginger ale. I’m sure this recipe is great and can’t wait to try it.

  12. D.J. says

    Just can’t get this stuff out of my head, a local restaurant makes their own, I had a glass about 3 weeks ago and today I had to have another as it strangely is highly addictive! I’ll be making this for Mother’s day brunch, to see how many takers I get! Wish me luck! Oh, and thanks for the write up!

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