Homemade Soda Recipes for 5 Classic Flavors
Photo: Armstrong Studios/Getty Images
It's easy to understand why soda is such a guilty pleasure: cold, fizzy, and sweet, it's a treat like no other. However, soda is usually filled with chemicals, preservatives, crazy high levels of sweeteners (and let's not even get into all those plastic bottles).
What about making your own soda? It isn't as hard as it sounds -- or at least, it doesn't have to be. You can start from scratch with complicated recipes that rely on yeast to ferment and carbonate the drink, or you can add simple syrups to sugar-free club soda to control your nutrition.
Read on for tips on making all your favorites, from cola and root beer to ginger ale and lemon-lime.
1. Root Beer
Since you can buy root beer extract, making your own doesn't have to be as complicated: One version from McCormick requires little more than boiling water, stirring in sugar, dissolving the concentrate in the syrup, and mixing it with club soda.
The company also offers directions for a more traditional brewed root beer, which takes a little longer: You'll combine root beer extract and sugar; mix yeast with boiling water and add it to the syrup, and then allow the mixture to ferment for about four days.
2. ColaPhoto: Stockbyte/Thinkstock
You won't be able to track down the exact flavor combinations that go into Coca-Cola, but as Lifehacker points out, you can come pretty close with this how-to from Unusual Food Handler.
Start by collecting seven essential oils (food-grade, of course) -- orange, lime, lemon, cassia, nutmeg, coriander, lavender -- and with just a few drops (and some other ingredients, like gum arabic, vodka, and water) you can make more than 50 liters of the finished product.
3. Ginger AlePhoto: Chris Collins/Corbis
Whether you're trying to settle an upset stomach or just want to give your mom's famous bridal shower punch some homemade flare, Alton Brown's recipe for ginger ale from the Food Network is just the right blend of sweet-with-a-kick.
Start by mixing fresh ginger, sugar, and water in a saucepan, and after the sugar has dissolved, let the mixture steep for an hour. Then strain it, chill it, and add it to your 2-liter bottle with water, yeast, and lemon juice. Wait two days to let the carbonation form, and then store in the refrigerator.
4. TonicPhoto: iStockphoto/Thinkstock
According to the BBC, British residents living in India invented gin and tonics to mask the taste of quinine -- a tonic ingredient that tastes terrible but helped them fight malaria.
If you want to make your own tonic, says Imbibe magazine, you'll need quinine -- also known as powdered cinchona bark, which you can get from herbal stores -- plus water, sugar, powdered citric acid, limes, and lemongrass.
This recipe makes a tonic that's less sweet than most commercial versions, so you can adjust to your taste.
5. LimePhoto: iStockphoto/Thinkstock
The Food Network's Sunny Anderson put together this simple recipe for lime soda: It starts with sugar dissolved in water, and then uses lime rinds, lime juice, and food coloring for a bright, summery, and flavorful soda finished with seltzer and fresh lime slices. (Try adding a few drops of lemon juice for an at-home take on your favorite lemon-lime blend.)