Making soda at home is a great way to use some of your home brewing equipment with kids. One bottle of soda extract will make 4 gallons of soda. You can make it all or do smaller batches. Once the soda is carbonated you will need to refrigerate it. That will stop the yeast from continuing to carbonate and actually start to ferment the sugar. You have to be certain that you put the yeast to “sleep” in the refrigerator, not in a cold cellar. Those old stories about bottles blowing up don’t need to be modern stories. Don’t depend on a cold cellar to put the yeast to sleep. Use the refrigerator.
You should seriously consider using plastic soda bottles for your soda. The bottles will be soft when you fill them. As the soda carbonates the bottles will get more firm. That’s when you know the soda is carbonated and should go in the refrigerator. Glass bottles won’t tell you the soda is carbonated. Even if you are used to using them with your homebrewed beer, soda is safer with plastic.
Here are some other things to consider:
If you are a beer brewer then you can use your bottling bucket, tubing and bottle filler tip. Everything should be sanitized first, just like any homebrew. You can sanitize the bottles with the same sanitizer in the bucket by filling them from the spigot.
You can use a large kettle to make the soda. Sanitize a ladle and funnel so you can fill the bottles directly. Don’t forget the bottle caps!
You should only make as much soda, as you want to give up space in the refrigerator. You can make as much or a little as you want, the extract will keep after it’s been opened in the refrigerator.
Once you decide how much soda you are makig, you can use the reipe from the soda extract to guide you. Or, you can make soda much like a homebrewer designing a beer recipe does it. You can use more or less sugar than they suggest. You can experiment with using some different suars like maple syrup, brown sugar, honey or molasses in addition to regular white sugar. You could add vanilla or ginger, steeped in a little bag in the kettle. You get the idea…..You should have a recipe journal or notebook to keep track of your recipes. This is a great project for a young sodamaker.
In a pot on the stove, combine the water, extract and sugar. Stir till the sugar dissolves. Make sure that you adjust the sweetness or add more extract not, before you bottle. If it isn’t sweet enough, or if it is too sweet, adjust it now.
Once you are satisfied with the soda (even though its warm and flat), fill the bottles and let cool to room temperature. You can either rehydrate the yeast in a little warm water or just sprinkle it in the bottles.
Screw the caps on tightly. Check the bottles for firmness everyday and refrigerate when they are firm. Summer soda will go quicker than winter sodas.
Make sure that everyone with whom you share your homebrewed soda knows about keeping cold. If it is taken out of the refrigerator and warms up, it’s very likely the yeast will wake up and start fermenting the sugar. No one wants bottles blowing up.
Homemade sodas will improve with a little conditioning time. If you drink your sodas over the course of a month then you can see/taste for yourself if they get smoother.
Try different yeasts. Try blending the extracts.
Put your equipment, bottles and caps away clean and dry till you’re ready to make some more.