Sunday, August 23, 2009

carbonated water

In response to a recent post my Aunt wrote and asked, "What do you advise about carbonated water? I prepare a drink for treats--carbonated water over ice cubes topped off with a splash of home brewed mint extract (made by filling a bottle with sprigs of fresh mint, filling with boiling water, letting it stand until it all cools down, fishing out the then wilted mint leaves, topping off the extract bottle with cool water, covering and keeping it refrigerated), a splash of apple juice and a wedge of sliced lemon."

This sounds like a really tasty treat and a very healthy beverage choice as long as the apple juice is 100% juice with no high fructose corn syrup. I remember drinking a mint water/water/lemon concoction when I visited which was delicious and the apple juice sounds like a really nice touch. As soon as my mint, currently struggling in the Texas heat, gets big enough I'll have to start making my own mint extract to have on hand.

I did want to take this opportunity to explain the differences between the different types of carbonated waters out there. This explanation assumes that these are plain, unflavored versions of the different waters.

Seltzer water is simply water to which carbonation has been added. The carbonation is caused by adding pressurized carbon dioxide gas to the water. You can make your own seltzer water, very inexpensively, at home using a
soda maker.

Club soda, sometimes also called soda water, is very similar to seltzer but frequently contains added sodium, either in the form of table salt, sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, potassium sulfate, or disodium phosphate. Sodium levels vary depending on the manufacturer. For anyone watching sodium intake it is important to read the label when purchasing this product.

Tonic water is also a carbonated beverage and usually has a slightly bitter taste. This is from the quinine used to flavor it. Quinine was believed to to be helpful in treating malaria but was so bitter that it could not be drunk by itself and was put into a "tonic". Apparently there is not enough quinine in tonic water to be medicinally effective. Most tonic waters are flavored with either lemon or lime and have sugar in them. The labels I saw indicated 80 calories and 21.6 g of sugar per 8 ounces making this not a good beverage choice for regular consumption.

If you have a healthy beverage recipe that you'd like to share please leave a message in the comments. It's always nice to try new flavors.

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