Get Fizzy With It! Make Your Own Homemade Soda

The process of natural carbonating has always interested me and this project would be an easy segue into making other homemade brews. After mentioning to my 10-year old son that I wanted to make homemade soda, he immediately threw his arms around me thanking me for being such a wonderful mother (Who knew that’s all it took?).

According to Mother Earth News, when soda is made with natural ingredients, you get all the flavor and healthful properties of the herbs and spices in the recipe, which might include ginger, anise, hops or licorice root. Natural sodas also contain yeast, which is a great source of B-complex vitamins. The most important health benefit of making your own soda, however, is that you can control the amount of sugar. Most commercial colas contain the equivalent of 7 to 9 teaspoons of sugar for a 12 ounce soda. When you make your own, you can add sweeteners to taste, and it’s easy to brew great-tasting soda with one third less sugar than commercial brands.”

The Brewing Process

With homemade soda, the process is similar to making homemade beer:

  1. You add filtered water and sugar together in a pitcher.
  2. Add your herbs or extracts and then add yeast.
  3. To encourage the carbonation process, the mixture is then added to a bottle and allowed to sit at room temperature for a few days.
  4. The yeast will begin eating the sugar and will naturally create the carbon dioxide. Similar to making homemade beer, you should check your bottles of soda daily to ensure the carbonation process is starting.
  5. Once the carbonation bubbles appear, move your bottled soda to the refrigerator to slow the carbonation process down. When there is a lot of carbonation present, the carbonation has nowhere to go but out!Tip: Those of you who have had exploding soda bottles, the over-carbonation was probably the culprit.
  6. Further, if you are concerned about the alcohol content of homemade soda, rest assured, because of short the fermentation cycle, one glass of homemade soda usually contains less than 1 percent alcohol.

Equipment Needed

 The Preparation Process

The first step to making soda is to sanitize your equipment you plan to use including the vessel(s) the soda will be sitting in during the fermentation process.

An easy way to sanitize your equipment is to soak everything in 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach to I gallon of water for at least 20 minutes. Then, wash and rinse thoroughly because any leftover bleach particles can kill the yeast. Further, putting your equipment in the dishwasher and set it to the sanitation cycle also helps

Now that the sanitation process is complete, it’s time to start making your own brew!

Ingredients:

Many of the ingredients used can easily be found in your kitchen pantry. There are many home brewing stores that will carry specialty herb blends, extracts, different yeasts, etc. I wanted to keep things simple for my first try at making soda, so I used brewer’s yeast (ale and champagne yeast are also great) and ordered some soda extracts found on www.Amazon.com. However, I have seen many soda recipes calling for regular baking yeast. Next time I make homemade soda, I plan on trying a batch out using baking yeast as well as making my own extracts to get the full process down – I just wanted to start small at first.

A note on yeast: Most yeast is fine to use, with the exception of nutritional yeast. Mother Earth News indicates that nutritional yeast will not work because the yeast cells are no longer active, and lager yeast is best avoided for the opposite reason: It can over-carbonate your soda.

One of best aspects of homemade soda is you can decide what type of sweetener and how much of it should go into your mixture. You can use sugar, honey or even no-calorie sweeteners such as stevia.

Tips:

  • When using plastic bottles, replace the caps after a few uses because the seals will begin to wear out.
  • Never use plastic bottles from your recycling outlet because there’s no way to know what the bottles previously held, and plastic can absorb toxic substances.
  • Always open soda bottles slowly, and if in doubt, open them outside.
  • If you plan to let your soda carbonate in an especially warm room, consider reducing the amount of yeast in the recipe by half because yeast goes crazy in a warm environment.
  • If your soda isn’t carbonating, wait an extra few days to see if carbonation occurs. If it does not, as a last ditch effort, add an additional pinch of yeast to a liter bottle and wait a few days to see if carbonation occurs (My batch took 3-4 days see carbonation).

Home Brew Recipes

Root Beer

  • 1/4 tsp. brewer’s yeast
  • 6 oz. warm water
  • ½ gallon water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon extract

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix 6 ounces warm water with brewer’s yeast and gently stir until mixed.
  2. In a large pitcher, add remaining ingredients and stir well.
  3. Add yeast mixture into pitcher and stir.
  4. Using a funnel, gently pour soda mixture into sterilized bottles or container.
  5. Add and secure cap.

Cream Soda

  • 1/4 tsp. brewer’s yeast
  • 6 oz. warm water
  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extract
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla (for cream soda)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix 6 ounces warm water with brewer’s yeast and gently stir until mixed.
  2. In a large pitcher, add remaining ingredients and stir well.
  3. Add yeast mixture into pitcher and stir.
  4. Using a funnel, gently pour soda mixture into sterilized bottles or container.
  5. Add and secure cap.

Ginger Ale

  • 1/4 tsp. brewer’s yeast
  • 6 oz. warm water
  • ½ gallon water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extract
  1. In a small bowl, mix 6 ounces warm water with brewer’s yeast and gently stir until mixed.
  2. In a large pitcher, add remaining ingredients and stir well.
  3. Add yeast mixture into pitcher and stir.
  4. Using a funnel, gently pour soda mixture into sterilized bottles or container.
  5. Add and secure cap.

What soda recipes do you use with your home brews?

by Tess Pennington

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