You know, a lot of the things I make from scratch I’m not doing to be an annoying show off, although that aspect certainly appeals. Or to boast about how much time those of us not in gainful employment have on our hands to go about pretending that we live on a farm in the nineteenth century. It’s because when I first started doing these things, particularly the subject of this post, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. Why have we been suckered into buying soft drinks all these years when it’s the work of minutes to make your own?
This is it. Seriously. Dissolve two cups of sugar in one cup of water (you will need heat). Add one cup of fruit juice. That’s your soda syrup. Pour a bit into a glass and add soda water. See? You couldn’t even get to the corner shop and back in that time.
Of course there are niceties, which trial and error have taught me. Once you’ve tried it you can’t go back, so you’ll have to haul yourself up to Kmart to buy a Sodastream. You want a fairly acid fruit juice, so I’ll usually include a lemon if I’m doing an orange or a grapefruit soda. I’ll also add up to a teaspoon of citric acid (it’s next to the baking powder at the supermarket) to the mix to give it zing and to act as a preservative (not sure if that’s true, but I read it on the Internet, so it must be). I’ve found that you want to stick to just one or two kinds of fruit and so far one of them has been citrus. I’ve made strawberry lemonade and orange and passionfruit soda. That leads to the next tip, to use a pulpy fruit just chop it up and add it to the saucepan you’re boiling your water and sugar in. Put a lid on, you’re not trying to reduce it. Cook it for about five minutes, or until the fruit can be squished with a fork. Have the cup of citrus juice in a bowl with a sieve over it and tip the syrup into it, squashing all the flavour out of the pulp with a fork so it will drip through the sieve.
Last night we had an impromptu barbeque, so I scouted around the kitchen for soda ingredients. I had half a bag of oranges, some lemons, and three small, soft, slightly wrinkled white nectarines that the kids had turned up their noses at. I chopped up the nectarines and put them in the sugar syrup, and boiled that for about ten minutes. My cup of citrus juice was half a lime I had left over from Saturday’s gin and tonic, an elderly lemon, and four oranges. I wasn’t sure how much flavour the nectarines would have, but they added a gorgeous fragrance to the mix and gave a lovely pink hue to the syrup. I should calculate how much soda a jug of syrup makes up, but I can tell you it’s lots and lots. The kids gave it a resounding thumbs up, so this one is staying in the repertoire.