Oh you guys! Aiden has been on simmer break for a little while now, and I’m absolutely loving it! Sometimes, when you’re going, going, going, for a long time you don’t realize how worn down you’ve become. Finally having the opportunity to slow down now that school is done, has definitely made me realize how ragged I was getting. It’s done both the kids and I so much good to make a break.
The boys have actually been sleeping in (which is a minor miracle, as both of them have always been early risers). When we get up we get to eat breakfast SITTING DOWN instead of on the run! Can you believe that? We stay in our PJs entirely too late. I have time to work out in the mornings. I get a few chores done. And when we feel like it we head out and about.
I haven’t signed anyone up for lessons. I haven’t taken on any new projects. The only thing that has any bearing on our schedule right now is Tristan’s nap time. It’s not that we’ve been doing absolutely nothing but lazing around. We’ve bene to the park, the pool, the library, out with friends, seen family… It’s just that we’ve been doing it all at out own pace (which admittedly is slow). Can you see why I’m loving this?
As you may have noticed I’ve also been posting a little less frequently as well. Some of it is that I’ve needed a brain break along with all the rest. But, also, to be 100% honest I’m also not cooking quite as much lately. There are so many quick and easy toss together meals for summer, salads, burgers, that kind of thing… But don’t fear, my kitchen experiments haven’t ceased! In fact, I wanted to share a really fun one with you today. Homemade Cream Soda!
I always browse the cookbooks when we go to the library, and this last visit I ended up picking up True Brews, How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home; by Emma Christensen. Now, I’ll be honest I have no interest in Kombucha at this point, though I know it’s all the rage these days. But, homemade soda, now that sounded sweet. (Homemade wine sounded pretty darn fun too! S0 we’ll see down the line.) As I looked through the book I was pleasantly surprised to discover that homemade soda was pretty much insanely easy to make! Like I said, not in the mood to take on any large new projects right now.
Charlie (my prince charming) happens to love soda. He used to drink it by the gallon, but he’s pretty much stopped in the name of being healthy and not ending up with diabetes. But once and a while we’ll by a six pack of some really nice root beer, black cherry soda, or cream soda for him to enjoy. I’m not a fan of black cherry, but I can get next to root beer and cream soda. So I figured why not give it a try? How fun would it be to have my own homemade cream soda to offer him the next time he got off work?
And as promised in True Brews the cream soda turned out to be incredibly easy to make. You really only need five ingredients for cream soda. Water, really nice vanilla extract (yup that’s what makes the “cream” flavor), sugar, lemon juice (to balance the sweetness), and champagne yeast (to make the bubbles!).
I figure most of us keep water and sugar on hand. I have a rather large bottle of homemade vanilla extract in the cabinet, which happens to be a lovely Christmas gift from my cousin Kyra! But, if your cousin isn’t as cool as mine you can get really vanilla extract from the grocery store. Ditto on the lemon. And fortunately champagne yeast isn’t as hard to find as it sounds. You can find it at any brewers store or all over the place online. I bought mine conveniently divided in little packets on amazon. BTW I used Red Star in case you’re wondering. I bake with their yeast all the time with great results, so I figured their champagne yeast would work well also.
The process of making homemade soda is as simple as the ingredient list. You basically make a simple syrup with some water and the sugar (you can add fruit or juice during this step if you want fruit flavoring in the soda as well). You put the simple syrup, vanilla, and more water into an air tight bottle (think a clean 2 liter bottle, or a glass flip cap bottle). You add the yeast, seal it up tight, and let it sit for 24-48 hours so the yeast can do it’s thing. After that you chill the soda, and then bam! ready to drink homemade soda!
A few important tips/ things you need to know and we’ll get right to the official recipe:
- Soda making is easiest in a clean two liter bottle because you can tell when the soda is properly fermented.
- Glass flip cap bottles that seal up really tight, seem to end up with stronger fermentation the plastic two liter bottles. This isn’t a bad thing, just open very slowly and over the sink because you can get some serious foaming/ spray/ mess. (Yes I did end up with soda ALL over my kitchen at one point.)
- On second thought open all your homemade soda over the sink to avoid mess!
- Do refrigerate your soda over night, it causes the yeast to go dormant i.e. stop making bubbles. This helps prevent that whole spray mess business.
- Don’t leave out the lemon juice it really enhances the flavor.
- Don’t stress if your soda smells a touch yeasty at first. The scent will pass, and it probably won’t taste yeasty. And even if it does it will do you no harm. But, you may need to use a touch less yeast/ r ferment for a shorter period next time. (Amounts needed carries slightly depending on the conditions at your house.)
- You should know that since you are using yeast to ferment this soda, alcohol will be made as a by product. However, as the formation time is quite short, the amount usually comes out to less then 1%.
And I think thats about all you need to know. So go make some cream soda already, because come on, summer, homemade soda, yes!
P.S. In case you’re wondering the little black speckles in my soda are vanilla bean.
Homemade Cream Soda– Yields 2 liter bottle ( or about 8 cups). Adapted from True Brews by Emma Christensen.
- 1 cup water + about 7 cups to fill the bottle
- 3/4 cup white sugar (You can add up to another 1/2 cup if you prefer a sweeter soda)
- 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (or more to taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon dry champagne yeast
- clean plastic two liter bottle and lid
1. Heat 1 cup of water and 3/4 cups sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely into the water.
2. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and lemon juice. Stir well. Taste the mixture, this is more or less what your soda will taste like. Add more lemon or sugar if desired. Stir until any additional sugar is dissolved.
3. Allow the mixture to cool, then pour into the clean two liter bottle using a funnel or measuring cup with a lip. Fill the remainder of the bottle with water, leaving about 1 inch of head space at the top of the bottle. Add the 1/8 teaspoon of yeast to the bottle. Seal tightly, and then shake the bottle vigorously.
4. Place the bottle in a room temperature location to sit for 24-48 hours, until the fully fermented. Fermentation time will very greatly depending on room temperature. You can tell the fermentation is complete when the bottle becomes very hard, with little give when squeezed. Refrigerate overnight, then serve cold. Open bottles slowly, and carefully over the sink!!
* Soda can be stored, refrigerated, in a sealed bottle for up to two weeks.
Note: You can ferment the soda in glass bottles, but it is very hard to tell when fermentation is complete. If you wish to ferment in glass bottles, take a small, clean, disposable soda bottle and ferment part of the soda in the small bottle. When the small bottle passes the squeeze test the glass bottles should be done fermenting as well.