July 21, 2010

Recipe 2 - watermelemon

This recipe came about because my kids wanted to buy a watermelon. The trouble is, no one in our house really gobbles up watermelon. Now, I've always thought, "If watermelons are so juicy, why don't they sell watermelon juice?" So I juiced the watermelon, and now I know why no one juices watermelons. The juice really isn't all that great. So I decided to make it into a soda.
I juiced not quite half a watermelon and came up with about 3 pints of juice. As you can see, I still have half a watermelon left which I may juice later if no one eats it. By juicing I mean mashing it up and pressing it through a coffee filter, jelly bag, or other clean filter.

So, you'll need:
2 L Club Soda well chilled
1 c sugar
2.5 c watermelon juice
0.5 c lemon juice

Combine the sugar and juices in a saucepan and let it come to a gentle boil on med heat for about 5 min. This does change the flavor profile of the watermelon juice a little, but I wanted to be sure to kill any wild yeasts. This will make a very thin syrup, that you can dilute in the club soda at about 25-30%, meaning 3-4ozs. per 12oz. bottle.

July 18, 2010

Recipe 1 - Lime in 'd' Coconut

This ended up nicely for what it is. As a confession this isn't the first batch I've made, but as far as anything written down it is. First though I'd like to say that this club soda plus syrup idea isn't working out as well as I'd hoped. There are a few problems that I'd like to just put out there before I start off. First is that your club soda has to be cold, and I do mean cold. You want it borderline frozen. (In case you want to know why) And be careful, because I've pulled mine out of the freezer thinking it's just right and then as I opened the cap, the pressure drop caused enough dip in temperature to freeze part of the soda. It's kind of difficult emptying slush out of a 1L bottle. It's fun to see something freeze right before your eyes, though. Second, it's not as economical as I would have hoped. I'm paying the same amount for unflavored carbonated water as I would buying a cheap, private label pop. And lastly, I'm not getting the carbonation that I would like. You lose pressure opening the club soda, you lose pressure transferring to another bottle, you lose pressure as the CO2 bubbles out to pressurize the headspace of your capped bottle. So the result is not as fizzy as I'd like, and I like as much fizz as I can get! So I'll be seeking new ways to get more bubbles in my bubbly.
But anyway, this turned out alright for a quick batch. I call it Lime in 'd' Coconut after the popular song.
This is roughly what I used:
1 L club soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut water, sans pulp
1/2 tsp. Coconut flavoring
3-4 drops neon green food coloring

Put the sugar and the water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the juices and coconut water and heat further to ensure you won't have anything growing once it's in your bottles, though it's good enough that it won't be stored long anyway. After the syrup is cooled you can add the coloring and the coconut flavor. At this point you can adjust your syrup to club soda ratio to taste, so you'll know what to put in each bottle. Then you should measure what volume of syrup you have, add that to your volume of club soda and that will tell you how many bottles you'll need.
Put the syrup(best if chilled) in first, and then gently pour the ice cold club soda through a funnel that is tilted so as to gently pour it down the side of the bottle. This way you don't create a lot of foam on top and you don't lose as much carbonation in the transfer. Cap it quickly and then you can shake gently to thoroughly mix your syrup. Let the CO2 settle and achieve equilibrium before you open it though.

It tastes, great. Very strong lime flavor, with just enough coconut to taste, but not over power. Tastes like an island breeze. No joke.

June 25, 2010

Step 2 - Prep cont.

So we're ready to go with some nice clean bottles. Of course these will always be rinsed and sanitized prior to each batch to ensure that any dust or random stuff inside has been cleaned off. A solution of a little bleach in hot water will do the trick nicely. The hotter the better.
With my first test batches, my plan is to mix up a syrup, carefully fill with club soda, cap, chill and enjoy later. I figure this is how it's done at the commercial bottling plants, just on a larger level. The trick is going to be finding the right sweetness and the right amount of syrup in each bottle. More to come on that later while I gather up some recipes.

Step 2 - Prep cont.

As you can see from the picture, after a good soak, it comes right off. If you soak it for long enough, it will actually start to just run off as you pull it out of the solution. To be sure it's all off, go ahead and wipe it off, a scrubber helps but is not necessary if it's been soaking long enough.

Bear in mind that while this came off easily, other bottles may be different. I also picked up some empty Corona bottles and wanted to clean the printing off of those as well. They use a three color screen print; blue over yellow over white. So those took some scrubbing, extra soaking, and extra CLR. If doing this yourself, you'll just have to play around with it a bit and see what works best.

Step 2 - Prep

Once the minimal equipment arrived (caps, bottles, and capper), I was pretty much ready to go. But while I liked the look of the blue bottles with the white screen printing, I wanted a blank canvas to exhibit my own creativity. I wanted blank blue bottles.

I had read previous to purchasing them that the print can be cleaned of with a 10:1 mixture of water and CLR. So I mixed some up and set them to soak. I was disappointed with the results. There was still an outline of where the print was, and on one bottle there was scratching from the scrubber only where the printing had been.

After playing around with it some more, I discovered that a 4:1 mix was more appropriate, and the more CLR you have in your mix, the less time it needs to soak. 4:1 needs about 8-12 hours for good results. It's important to use CLR and not something like Lime Away, because while they seem like similar products, Lime Away warns against using on food surfaces, while CLR gives instructions for cleaning coffee pots. If you're worried about getting the chemical inside the bottle, you can always cap it first. Be sure to fill it with water before capping so it won't float in whatever you might be soaking it.

May 27, 2010

Step 1 - Equipment

Having done my research, I already know what I need. There are plenty of homebrew books that will tell you how to get started making your own tasty beverages. Though I'm not into the whole fermenting thing, so that eliminates a lot of reading and fine tuned science that I have to deal with. The important thing for making pop(or soda, depending on what region you're from) is that you have something to carbonate, and something to carbonate it with. This can be as cheap or as expensive as you want. If you want to drop a 5lb block into an orange camping cooler with a spigot, go right ahead. But personally I think there's just something more charming about being able to cap it and store it(and have a bit more control over carbonating, without the waste).
So I've purchased a bench top capper, some standard crown caps, and some interesting blue bottles. I ordered this all from Midwest Homebrew and Winemaking, a homebrew outlet in MN. About 3 seconds after I paid for my order, I realized that I now live in wine country, and the bottles were from a defunct brewery somewhere close to here, and I probably could have saved $20 on shipping. Oh well, blue bottles sure beat brown any day, unless of course you're trying to prevent higher energy light from oxidizing your brew. But I don't have to worry about that. Pictures yet to come.
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