How to Brew Your Own Soda Pop

Three Methods:Traditional Symbiotic Bacteria-Yeast CultureSemi-Traditional Yeast FermentationModern (No Fermentation) Method

Before Pepsi and Coke, how did people get soda? They made their own! Here are procedures which vary from traditional to modern.

Method 1
Traditional Symbiotic Bacteria-Yeast Culture

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    Measure out a quantity of water equal to the amount of soft drink you want to make.
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    Boil any flavoring herbs or roots (ie, ginger) in the water.
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    Strain the flavoring ingredients from the liquid.
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    Dissolve some sugar in the water. Perhaps 1.5 cups/gallon. This sugar may be white or brown, as desired.
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    Pour the liquid into a fermentation container. The volume of this container should be somewhat larger than the volume of the liquid, and the container should be able to be sealed.
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    Allow the liquid to cool to body temperature (37°C) or less.
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    Add some (perhaps 1 cup per gallon) Lactobacillus Hilgardii ("ginger beer plant") culture. This may be purchased, or reused from a previous batch.
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    Add an airlock to the vessel, or some other way to keep intruding oxygen to a minimum.
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    Allow the beverage to ferment in a dark place for a few days. Fewer days (perhaps as few as 3) results in a wetter (as opposed to dry and astringent) mouth-feel and a more pronounced change in flavor, as well as a somewhat higher (though still very low - most will be converted to lactic acid) alcohol content. A long fermentation period for a soft drink may be considered to be 10-12 days - though these numbers are rough and depend upon the exact cultivar of ginger beer plant, the initial chemistry of the liquid, and the conditions under which the fermentation is proceeding.
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    When the fermentation is "complete", siphon off the liquid, leaving behind any sediment at the bottom of the container, into pressure-capable bottles (or other containers).
    • You may notice a bunch of translucent, granular lumps: these are ginger beer plant nodules. Gather them and keep them refrigerated so that you can start the next batch.
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    Allow the bottles to sit around in a dark place, carbonating themselves with the CO2 produced by the yeast, but do not let the bottles sit too long: they might burst! After a period of time (perhaps 2-5 days), it would be prudent to refrigerate them to slow the build of pressure, but it will still be necessary to consume them within a month.
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    Consume the beverage.

Method 2
Semi-Traditional Yeast Fermentation

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    Measure out a quantity of water equal to the amount of soft drink you want to make.
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    Boil any flavoring herbs or roots (ie, ginger) in the water.
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    Strain the flavoring ingredients from the liquid.
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    Dissolve some sugar in the water. Perhaps 1.5 cups/gallon. This sugar may be white or brown, as desired.
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    Pour the liquid into a fermentation container. The volume of this container should be somewhat larger than the volume of the liquid, and the container should be able to be sealed.
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    Allow the liquid to cool to body temperature (37°C) or less.
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    Add some (perhaps 1/8 teaspoon per gallon) yeast, preferably a wine or beer yeast. Bread yeast may be used if you have absolutely no choice in the matter...
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    Add an airlock to the vessel, or some other way to keep intruding oxygen to a minimum.
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    Allow the beverage to ferment in a dark place for a few days. Fewer days (perhaps as few as 3) results in a wetter (as opposed to dry and astringent) mouth-feel and a more pronounced change in flavor, as well as a significantly higher alcohol content. A long fermentation period for a soft drink may be considered to be 10-12 days - though these numbers are rough and depend upon the exact cultivar of yeast, the initial chemistry of the liquid, and the conditions under which the fermentation is proceeding.
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    When the fermentation is "complete", siphon off the liquid, leaving behind any sediment at the bottom of the container, into pressure-capable bottles (or other containers).
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    Allow the bottles to sit around in a dark place, carbonating themselves with the CO2 produced by the yeast, but do not let the bottles sit too long: they might burst! After a period of time (perhaps 2-5 days), it would be prudent to refrigerate them to slow the build of pressure, but it will still be necessary to consume them within a month.
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    Consume the beverage.

Method 3
Modern (No Fermentation) Method

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    Measure out a quantity of water equal to the amount of soft drink you want to make.
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    Boil any flavoring herbs or roots (ie, ginger) in the water.
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    Strain the flavoring ingredients from the liquid.
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    Dissolve some sugar in the water. Perhaps 1.5 cups/gallon. This sugar may be white or brown, as desired.
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    Pour the liquid into a fermentation container. The volume of this container should be somewhat larger than the volume of the liquid, and the container should be able to be sealed.
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    Allow the liquid to cool. The cooler the better; refrigerate it if you can.
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    Carbonate the liquid with an outside source of CO2, perhaps using dry iced or a pressurized bottle of the gas.
    • Some popular methods of carbonating liquids involve using a modern carbonator like the Sodastream or Fizz-Giz products or a homebrew kit.

Tips

  • With hard candy, you can heat it up a little in some water until it becomes candy flavored water.
  • To make soda look and taste more interesting, use juice ice cubes. Not only will it make the soda look nice and cool, it will add a punch of flavor.

Example Flavorings

  • Ginger Ale: 1 to 1.5 tablespoons (14.8 to 22.2 ml) grated ginger per gallon
  • Old Fashioned (and carcinogenic) Root Beer: grated sassafras and sarsaparilla to taste
  • Lemon Lime: lemon and lime juice to taste (remember that the liquid will become less sweet upon fermentation/carbonation)
  • Write down your ingredients and exactly how much you put in for which liquid/syrup for future reference.

Warnings

  • If you are going to use hard candy, be sure to get lots of the same kind of flavor because one would only flavor it a little bit.
  • You may want to do smaller batches (say, 1 gallon) when trying experimental flavors.

Things You'll Need

  • Herbs/fruit juices/roots for flavoring
  • Syrup/honey/sugar for sweetening
  • Source of CO2; ginger beer plant, wine yeast, or just the pure compound.

Article Info

Categories: Sodas and Fizzy Drinks