Adapted from "Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It" by Karen Solomon
Making your own strawberry soda sounds difficult, but it’s easy to pull off. Start by making a syrup using halved strawberries stirred together with sugar; let the mixture sit overnight until the sugar has dissolved and mingled with the juice from the berries. In the morning, add a little orange juice to the syrup, put some syrup in a glass, and top with sparkling water. Use the leftover strawberries for topping ice cream or cheesecake.
2 poundsstrawberries, washed, hulled, and halved (about 7 cups)
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
12 cupssparkling water, chilled
Place the strawberries in a large bowl, pour in 2 cups of the sugar, and mix until the strawberries are coated. Pour the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar in an even layer to cover the strawberries. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit at room temperature, stirring once or twice, until the sugar has mostly dissolved, about 12 hours.
Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Stir the strawberry mixture again to help dissolve any sugar at the bottom of the bowl. Pour the strawberries and all of the liquid through the strainer, stirring the fruit but not pushing on it. Reserve the strawberries in the strainer for another use. Stir the orange juice into the syrup.
Pour 1/4 cup of the syrup into a tall glass and add 1/2 cup of the sparkling water. Stir gently to combine, fill the glass with ice, and serve. Transfer any remaining syrup to a container with a tightfitting lid and refrigerate for up to 1 month.