March 20, 2014

Recipe 31 - Grape Lime Rickey

Whenever I think of Lime Rickey, I think of an Arctic Circle commercial from the late 80's that featured a spoof of the 1981 song "Mickey", so naturally I just expect that Lime Rickey is so fine that it'll blow my mind.  Yes, now they're forever intertwined in your head, too.  Sorry.

This was also a request from a friend to mimic the Arizona Lime Rickey flavors, (of which I have only tried the grape, but very interesting to find lemon, cherry, and mango thrown into the line as well).  When I tasted the Arizona product, I had the sensation of drinking a carbonated grape snow-cone.  Not bad.

Mine doesn't taste exactly like a snow-cone, it's a bit more true-to-fruit for that, but it's still pretty tasty.  It seems to have become somewhat cliche now that I absolutely love anything with lime in it, but I must say this ranks as one of my favorite recipes.

8 oz grape juice concentrate
Zest and Juice of 2 limes or 1/2 c lime juice and 1 drop lime oil.
1 1/2 c sugar
1 gallon carbonated water

1. Steep the zest in 1-2 cups water and strain to remove, set aside. (skip if using lime oil)
2. Bring the grape juice concentrate and sugar to a boil, then remove from heat and add the lime water or oil and the lime juice to the syrup.  Top up with carbonated water.

Be careful boiling the grape juice concentrate with the sugar, if it goes two far it will burn or destroy the flavor of the grape juice.  It's also not necessary to serve this with a giant lime wedge as seen above, but no one will complain if you do!

February 6, 2014

Homemade Soda Comes full Circle. Coke jumps into the "homemade" game.

Just found out today that Coke wants to jump into the homemade market by partnering with Keurig for their Keurig Cold system.

I'm not seeing the appeal.  You want Coke at home?  In single servings?  Oh, yeah, that's right, it comes in cans, now.  I almost forgot.

I can see the appeal of the original Keurig coffee maker.  You can't bottle/can fresh, hot coffee and keep it on the shelf, and if you want a special blend just for you, you don't want to make a whole pot.

With soda, there's really not much difference from fresh made, and you drink it cold so it's easier to just pull it out of the fridge.  Now if you want gourmet, or you want to avoid specific ingredients, or if you want to "save the planet" by not buying so many bottles/cans, then you make your own.  None of those selling points really factor into the Keurig model.
If I want Coke, I'll buy a can of Coke, and if I want gourmet, I'm not going to buy Coke.  So no single serve pods there.
If I want to avoid specific ingredients, a single serve pod isn't going to do much for me, unless they start selling Mexican Coke single serve pods, but then how are they going to pack all that real sugar into a single serve pod?  How big are these pods?
If I want to save the planet by not buying so many bottles/cans, then maybe the single serve pods make sense.  But again, how big are these pods, what is the likelihood that a single serve pod is going to be as recyclable as a soda can?  I can see reduced shipping costs due to weight, but that's going to be off-set on the consumer end by the price of the countertop gadget, cost of CO2, and the cost of the premium pod.  Currently aren't K-cup pods a little less than $1 per serving.  Let's see, I will likely be able to buy a 12-pack of Coke pods for around $10 if I'm lucky, or I can buy a 12 pack of cans for less than $5.  Which one am I going to spring for?  Hmmm....

Nice job, Green Mountain Coffee.  You and Coke have just agreed to bring homemade soda full circle.  It went from economical, eco-friendly, and possibly healthier than store-bought to expensive, wasteful, and a wash on the health side.

January 8, 2014

Psych Soda: Roasted Pineapple Soda and Jamaican Jerk Cola

Let it be known that I'm a Psych fan.  I'm not as die hard as some.  I have not tried to spot the pineapple in every episode, nor have I memorized all of Gus's nicknames.  But I have been known to quote the phrase, "I've heard it both ways." on occasion.

As a tribute to the fact that Season 8 starts today, I've put together some tasty recipes for all the devoted Psych-O's out there.  And since writing/editing/proofing my book put recipes on hold for a while, I'm glad to have the chance to start posting some more, so here goes:

What says Psych better than pineapple.  While (as far as I know) Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster have never indulged in roasted pineapple, that has always been my favorite way to eat it ever since my first stop at the Rodizio Grill.  With some smoked malt and some pineapple juice (you can crush your own if you want), this is certainly a tasty treat that would surely fit well with my Fist Bump Soda *pseudo* brand.  (Someday my friends, some day.)

For one gallon of finished soda:
2 1/2  c pineapple juice
1/4 c smoked malt
2 c sugar
1 1/2 c water
Add to 1 gallon carbonated water or club soda (about 4 liters)

Bring the sugar, 1/2 c pineapple juice, and 1/2 c water to a boil.  Using a candy thermometer heat to 240°F.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Bring the other 1 c water to a boil and remove from heat.  Coarsely mill the smoked malt and add to the water just after removing it from boiling.  Allow to steep for 15-20 minutes, then strain the solids through a coffee filter and add the liquid to the sugar solution.  Allow the syrup to cool before adding to carbonated water.

"Should I slice this up for the road?!" No, Shawn, just grab the bottle off the counter.

And as an added bonus, I've thrown in this recipe for Jamaican Jerk Cola.  Even though it's been a while since I've heard Shawn finish a conversation with "Dude, jerk chicken!", I'm certain even Jamaican Inspector Man is sure to imbibe.  (Do it Dule. I dare you.)  Jamaican Jerk seasoning already shares similar ingredients to the regular cola recipe I've posted, so it really does ends up tasting like a spicier, thymier cola.  The differences from straight cola are some allspice, thyme, peppercorns, cider vinegar, and chipotle (sorry, I didn't have any Scotch Bonnet Chiles for authenticity).  No chicken necessary.

For one gallon of finished soda:
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
1 3/4 c water
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground chipotle
1 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp rum flavor

Bring the sugars, lemon juice, and 3/4 c water to a boil.  Using a candy thermometer heat to 240°F.  Remove from heat and add the orange juice concentrate, lime juice, and cider vinegar then set aside.  Bring the other 1 c water to a boil and remove from heat.  Add the spices to the water just after removing it from boiling.  Allow to steep for 15-20 minutes, then strain the solids through a coffee filter and add the liquid to the sugar solution, press the spices in the filter to remove as much of the water as possible.  Add the rum flavor and mix well.  Allow the syrup to cool fully before adding to carbonated water.

Careful, Gus, it's a little spicy. "Please! I'm 1/4 Jamaican!"

Psych Season 8 Starts January 8th.  Supposedly there's a Harry Potter themed episode, so pull out your butterbeer.  Come to think of it, I may have to whip up a "Prisoner of Marzipan" soda for that one.

December 17, 2013

Last Minute Holiday Deals

I know I should be posting recipes, but I couldn't help but announce some last minute holiday deals.  As Amazon continues their cyber week (going on all month, likely into January like last year) daily deals which can be found here:

There are a couple of items today that might be worth checking out. I'm not sure if the deals can be had by clicking on the product links below, but they are definitely valid by browsing the daily deals on the link above.  First, going on sale at 4:40pm (EST) is this portable high top bar:


Basically it's a high table that has a shelf and a skirt that goes around the front.  It comes with a black skirt, a football skirt, and a tiki skirt.  While Amazon never reveals beforehand what the savings are going to be, I'd guess it will probably be selling for at least 10% off.

Next up is a book that has been reviewed on this site before, and has apparently won some awards since.  Winner of the James Beard Foundation award and an IACP Cookbook Awards Finalists (which is funny since it's not much of a cookbook, more a reference), Sandor Ellix Katz's The Art of Fermentation goes on sale tonight at Midnight (EST) on Amazon:

Again, I'd expect at least 10% off, maybe more for this one.  There's not a lot of soda information in this one, but what it does have is quite unique and this is very handy for anyone looking to make soda (or anything really) via fermentation.

What's more, both of these items are eligible for free shipping via Amazon Prime.  My wife just signed us up for a free trial on this, mainly for the instant streaming (which we do through the Wii)  At $79 a year, it seems pricey, but it works out to be about the less than Netflix or Hulu Plus, though admittedly, there's not as much content.  But the bonus is the free 2-day shipping, which is absolutely awesome for holiday purchases.  Nothing is worse than ordering something online and never knowing when it's going to show up, or waiting forever for it to plop on your doorstep.  

Not everything on Amazon is eligible for free shipping, but a lot of things are.  If you don't believe me on how awesome the free and quick shipping is, then it's free to try for yourself for 30 days.  So you can still order stuff online and get it before Christmas! And you thought it was too late!  Give it a try.

November 19, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013

So, how did it get to be that time of year again?  Where has 2013 gone?  Didn't we just play this game?  Not that I'm complaining.  Don't get me wrong, I love the Holidays just as much as the next guy, but I was really looking forward to this summer.  Did it come yet?

Personally, I think this should be on everyone's holiday list:
Barnes & Noble

That's right ladies and gents.  My book has a release date and it's already up for preorder!  Available June 1st!  Which I must admit, it's rough putting something on your Christmas list that you won't see for six months, but it's so totally worth it!

Anyway, I've reined in my holiday guide this year and broken it down to a few different categories.  This past year I've looked at soda making through some different lenses and here are five soda-maker personality types that I've chosen a few gifts for this year.

For The Nostalgic
This is the one that yearns for a bygone era.  The golden age of soda shops, soda jerks, and buying a bottle for a nickel.  The Nostalgic collects bottles and caps and anything soda related that looks old.  If she's on your Christmas list, you've come to the right place.

Vintage Soda Tin Signs
Tin advertising signs span generations.  You can pick up originals from antique or specialty stores, or you can find some great reproductions on places like Ebay and Amazon.  For anyone that has a space in the house dedicated to soda, The Nostalgic is sure to love some decor to spruce it up.

Nostalgia Electrics Dispenser Fridge icon
I saw this come out sometime this year, but I have heard little about how it works.  I've kept my eye out for mini fridges to build kegerators, and I can't help but think that this could be modified to dispense a keg with the built in dispenser.  If not, it still looks neat nonetheless.

Soda Siphons
Basically the original soda stream.  I picked up one of these glass soda siphons for their retro look, and am pleased that it is basically a self contained alternative to the SodaStream.  Plus I can carbonate anything I want in it, I can take it apart to clean it, and I'm working on a solution to be able to hook it up to a larger CO2 source.  For now it runs on 8g CO2 cartridges, but that's fine for the time being.
Classic Glass and Metal Mesh Seltzer Bottle also available in Green or Blue

You can also browse Ebay for a soda siphon that's truly Vintage.  Though some I would trust only as decor.

For The Copycat
The Copycat is a true DIYer.  Like a reformed con-artist, he is proud to offer his version of your favorite beverage.  Homemade cola? He's got you covered, do you want the red can recipe or the blue can recipe?  Like a connesieur of fine wines, he can name all 23 of the Dr's mystery flavors and whip up a batch for your next party.  Not sure what to put under the tree for him?  We do.

Sprecher Root Beer Extract icon
Sprecher has got to be one of the best root beers out there.  Rumor has it that Sprecher Brewery's root beer out sells all of their regular beers combined.  While it may be hard to get a hold of in bottles other than ordering online, it's much better to just order a jug of extract to make 5 gallons yourself.  Not exactly like cracking the secret recipe, but it's the next best thing.

Soda Keg O-Ring Kits
For carbonating in a keg, it's always good to have extra o-rings on hand.  There are numerous sets available on ebay and it's always good to have a few extras on hand.

The Twist N Sparkle by iSi was sold as an alternative to the soda stream, and while it was recalled last year due to safety concerns, the Soda Sparkle emerges as its replacement.  It still runs on CO2 cartridges, but it makes for a very compact setup that stores easily.

White Collar Season 4 on DVD icon
This one is just a bonus and would inspire any copycat.  I particularly liked the episode where Neal has to counterfeit a bottle of whiskey; bottle, beverage, and label.  It really struck a chord with the food scientist in me, even though I don't drink alcohol.

For The Syrup-er
As a rather casual sodamaker, the Syrup-er may have gotten into the craft by wanting just a little more variety out of her SodaStream than their off-the-shelf syrups, yet she's not interested in investing in a keg right now.  Or she could be a fan of mixed drinks or flavored coffees, and she just really enjoys the versatility of having various flavor syrups on hand.  Beyond syrups, what does this gal want?  Read on.

Make Your Own Soda: Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pop, Floats, Cocktails, and More by Anton Nocito
As founder of P&H Soda Co. Anton Nocito seeks to share his recipes with all.  Syrups are the foundation of this book, and while they can be adapted to other soda making methods, it's always easier to have the whole recipe and process right in front of you without having to calculate to your own adaptation.  With a gourmet flair, Nocito shows how to make some tasty, tasty syrups.

Cuisinart Carbonator and Syrups
Cuisinart usually makes some quality stuff.  I have one of their Ice Cream makers, and it's pretty good for the price.  While it seems there are few places to get your hands on their elusive carbonator (which looks a lot like the Soda Sparkle), they do have some promising artisan syrups.

For The Fermenter
The Fermenter is patient and not afraid to get his hands dirty with a complicated recipe.  For him, that satisfactory hiss of a heavily carbonated bottle outweighs any yeasty off-note or trace of alcohol.  Old-school and natural is his style.  He may not be as picky as other soda makers, but here are some selections that are sure to please.

Mr. Root Beer Kit
This is a complete kit sure to get anyone hooked on making soda.  There are refills for the items in this kit, but the same items can be purchased elsewhere and the bottles reused.  But to gather all of those items can be a chore and so the kit comes in handy for the first-timer.

Brown PET Bottles icon
Ok, ok, so The Fermenter already has a preferred extract and yeast.  Perhaps some more bottles would be more in line so larger batches can be made all at one time.  Nothing wrong with that, and if you don't want to empty commercial bottles of store-bought swill, just buy some brand new PET bottles perfect for fermenting.
True Brews by Emma Christensen
Emma Christensen of the Kitchn put this out this year as a guide to all things fermented for those with limited space.  She claims that all the recipes are scaled to be able to be made in a small apartment.  Not bad for a hobby that is on its way to taking over my basement (and that's just soda, I'd hate to think how much more gear I could amass if I were to actually homebrew other beverages).  The soda section may be only a portion of the book, but the recipes are not bad at all.  Be sure to check out the watermelon-mint soda that looks to be the red one showcased on the cover, it's fabulous.

For The Budding Pro
Right now in the U.S. craft beer is on the rise, so why not craft soda?  The Budding Pro is poised and ready to take on the Big Three in the soda business and has a brand and logo to prove it.  On the pro's Christmas list this year, you can be sure that you'll likely find one or more of these:

Branded Brewski Bell Soda Glass
Glassware is great to drink from.  There's something magical about it.  There's something even more magical about drinking from glassware with your own logo on it.  There is a minimum order and a setup fee, but if you don't mind picking up a few dozen, these are a perfect way to start your own brand. They are available as 6.75 oz and 21 oz sizes.

Custom Patches
Hawk your wares in style with your own logo attached to ball caps, jackets, polos or whatever.  The best alternative to embroidering a shirt is buying embroidered patches and then attaching them to whatever you wish.  It's more versatile and inexpensive than direct embroidery. primarily caters to the Boy Scouts, but they're open to other orders as well.

Bottlemark Custom Caps
Labels are easy enough to make with a laser printer, but the ultimate in customized bottled beverages is the custom bottle cap.  Bottlemark specializes in custom printed caps and they can work with just about any size order.  They're pretty popular among craft brewers, though, so order early!

And with that, hopefully you'll get some ideas for that crazy soda-maker in your life.  Happy Holidays!

September 27, 2013

Hacking Home Soda

It's been a while since I posted anything, so I decided to dig up a story that I found a while back from the NY Times just to keep things going.  I'll have some more recipes sometime soon, I promise.  I've been bogged down with other projects lately, but I'm almost ready to jump back in to recipe development.

As much as I dislike the SodaStream for it’s faddish image and overpriced CO2 refills, I do have to recognize that this little gadget is what has brought many recipe seekers here to the blog.

A few months ago, I found this article from the New York Times to be a confirmation of what I already know, and that people are wanting more out of their home carbonators, despite the big void stamp it puts on the SodaStream’s warranty once you carbonate other beverages. 

It is precisely this challenge that almost entices me to pick one up.  iSi certainly isn’t as concerned about their siphons having issues with other liquids in them, but then again they're not connected to as large a CO2 supply as the SodaStream is. Not that it can't be changed , but that's probably another warranty issue.

In related news, Green Mountain Coffee, creator of the Keurig, has apparently filed for copyright status on the name Karbon with intentions to make their own home carbonator.  With their aim to have a K-cup brewer in every home, it will be interesting to see what happons with the Karbon.  People have been reusing/hacking their K-cups for a while now, and even commercial refillable cups are available at big box stores.  I'm guessing whatever this Karbon machine is, it will definitely incorporate some sort of single serve function that I'm sure someone will want to hack right out of the gate.  I can only imagine something similar to a post-mix fountain with individual syrup cartridges of some sort.  I'm guessing that if they can get something that can carbonate more than just water, they can win over a number of disenchanted or rogue SodaStream-ers that want something more.

August 24, 2013

Recipe 28: Jamaica Sunrise

So some caveats on this recipe before I begin:

This has nothing to do with the island of Jamaica, sorry.
This is not to be confused with the Jamaican Sunrise cocktail, sorry.
It's a soda, so it's not necessarily for breakfast, sorry.

If you've ever frequented a tacqueria, particularly a mom-and-pop type, you've likely been greeted by a deep red agua fresca that's labeled with the word "Jamaica".  I'm not sure of the origins, but I know it's tasty.  It's fruity; bearing a slight resemblance to tamarind with a subtle, ever-present floral note.  However, it's made from the bright red hibiscus flower.  Yeah, you know, the stereotypical tropical flower that adorns everything from tahitian dancers to board shorts.

While a straight up Jamaica recipe is a great candidate for carbonation on its own, I wanted to add a little something extra.  I don't know how I settled on adding orange, but doesn't that sound like the perfect breakfast drink?  A nice glass of orange juice with some deep red hibiscus tea added for color cheery floral notes.  And so came "Jamaica" from the mexican name for the hibiscus tea and "Sunrise" from the fact that orange juice is just inexplicably tied to breakfast.

1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cups sugar
zest and juice from 1 orange
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
1 tbsp lemon juice.
carbonated water to top up to 1 gallon.

Steep the flowers, ginger, and orange zest in about 1 cup of near boiling water, remove from heat and allow to steep for about 30 min.
Strain to remove all the particulates.
Add the sugar and bring to a boil to dissolve completely.
Add the juices and simmer for an additional five minutes.
Allow the syrup to cool and then add to carbonated water by the glass or into bottles.

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