October 13, 2011

Recipe 14: Homemade Mountain Dew / Sun Drop Clone

Let me preface this by saying I'm not a Mountain Dew drinker.  Really the only time that I can think of that I actually drank Mt. Dew and said "Wow, this is good!" Was after being in Italy for a year and a half drinking the bitterness they pass off as soft drinks. 
I shouldn't say that, Italian beverages are fine.  Some are an acquired taste, but there's nothing inherently wrong with them.  They do run light on the sugar, though.  So it's possible that my taste of Mt. Dew that made me think it was a good drink was based on sugar content.  I love sugar.  When I returned back to the States and acclimated myself to standard US syrupy goodness, Mt. Dew was just kind of *meh*.  So this may not be an exact match, but it's a start for anyone looking for a match. 

2 cups sugar, inverted in 1 cup water
Juice from:
2 oranges (about 1/2 cup)
2 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
2 limes (about 1/4 cup)

1 cup water
Peel from:
1/2 orange
1/2 lemon
1/2 lime

Carbonated water up to 1 gallon.

Combine sugar, 1 cup water, and cream of tartar. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes.  Allow to cool. Bring the other 1 cup of water to a boil separately. Add the citrus peels, remove from heat and cover. Allow to steep until it has cooled to room temperature. Strain and add to sugar solution, along with the strained juices Ensure it is well blended. Add to carbonated water and mix gently until dissolved.

This has a bitter citrus bite because of the peels, there's that acquired Italian influence sneaking in there.  Feel free to adjust as you see fit.  If your a Mt. Dew drinker because of the caffeine, you'll need to add that separately. As you can see, it's not as green as the commercial version, but does it really need to be?

I'm thinking that this does need some work, but it's at least a start.  I know some people online have been looking around for something like this, so here it is!

Update July 2014: Because this is such a popular recipe, I've included it in my book - Making Soda at Home.  The recipe there takes on a slight variation and also includes methods for carbonating via fermentation or force carbonating like pre-mix rather than just making a syrup to add to carbonated water.




36 comments:

  1. Looks like it's worth a try! Thanks for this.

    One question though... How much cream of tartar do you use?

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  2. I used an adaptation of the recipe from Chef Eddy Van Damme, at chefeddy.com. There's a direct link to his recipe in my Harry Potter Butterbeer Recipe v2.0.
    His recipe uses 1/4 tsp for 2 lbs of sugar. The recipe above is for 1 lb, so you'll only need about 1/8 tsp.

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  3. What does th cream of tarter do? I made a recipe that i thought would be sprite it had 2T lime juice and 1T lemon and 2 cups sugar needless to say it had some twang my broters loved it (probably because of sugar) but it could use some work any ideas

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  4. The cream of tartar hydrolyzes the sugar and makes it sweeter. Sweeter taste, same number of calories. I'll have to make a post on this, as I've had others pose the same question.

    When you say it could use some work, what problems are you having? In my opinion, there's 3 basic tastes going on in Sprite/7up: Sweetness, Tartness, and Crispness/Freshness. Sweetness comes from sugar, tartness from citric acid, and crisp/fresh from citrus oil. You have to balance those three things to get it to taste right.

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  5. That was my thought but i am not very good with taste i tried balanceing the lime and lemon and it just didn't work it is plenty sweet and it has good crispness but there is to much tart and it gives it a wierd texture.

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  6. I have just looked through the rest of your recipies and unless I have missed something then I have noticed that you don't use the natural carbonatin method is there a particular reason why?

    Jake.

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  7. Jake,
    That's an excellent question. As a religious preference, I avoid alcohol. For more info, see www.mormon.org. I know that using the right yeast and carefully watching the fermentation won't yield much more alcohol than is naturally found in certain things, but I figure, "why risk it." I also really like having five gallons of club soda on hand in my keg so I can experiment with small batches and know what they taste like right away.

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    Replies
    1. You can use water kefir to make carbination. Look at http://www.culturesforhealth.com/water-kefir-grains.html

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    2. Thanks for the input. Yes water kefir will make carbonation the same as yeast, because kefir grains are cultures of bacteria and yeasts meshed into organic material (the substrate of whatever they've fermented). The principle, however, is the same and so are the fermentation products: carbon dioxide and ethanol.

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  8. I was just wondering why not use just the zest instead of the whole peel since the pith is what is causing the bitterness?

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    Replies
    1. Zesting is generally the preferred method. I wanted some of the astringency that comes with citrus oil. I apparently got too much.

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  9. I am currently testing this out using zest instead of the peel. I will post back when everything is cooled down and ready to roll. However I think that if we want to start getting the measurements down right we may want to switch to using something like pre-liquidated fruit (100% oj, lime/lemon juice, etc) so that we may have a greater control over the measurements

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, I can't wait to see your results. I agree that juice would give you mor control over measurement, but the flavor would probably be a bit different. I expect going the all juice route would be more tart than you need.

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  10. Thanks so much for this recipe. I've been looking for a way to make a sundrop clone at home for a while.

    Made my first batch this weekend - It's a pretty good jumping-off point. I'll be looking for some citric acid for my next batch, and probably going heavier on the OJ and lighter on the other two juices.

    Definitely more to follow :-)

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  11. Where do u buy the tarter stuff at

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    Replies
    1. Cream of Tartar (tartaric acid) is available at most supermarkets in the baking aisle near the spices. You could use citric acid or lemon juice with similar effect, but you'd end up with some definite fruity flavor. That's not a problem if you're making a fruity beverage, but otherwise you'll want the cleaner taste you'll get from the cream of tartar.

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  12. How would this recipe change based on the use of stevia? I would think the bitterness of stevia would clash with the citrus. I am guessing the cream of tartar doesn't have the same effect on stevia as it does on sugar...

    Great post, I am going to try this out today as the mountain mist syrup concentrate that I bought from prairie moon doesn't taste anything like Mountain Dew (and usually they are so good!). I love my Mountain Dew, but I don't love the enamel decay and weight gain that comes with it.

    Thank you very much!

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    Replies
    1. I haven't used stevia much, so honestly I can't say. Your guess is correct, though that the cream of tartar would not have the same effect on the stevia as it does sugar. I know this is not a dead on match, so I'd be curious to find out if mine is closer than Prairie Moon.

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    2. Hi, glad to have located your site. If you are concerned about the tooth problems as a result of using sugar, use xylitol instead. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and doesn't feed the bacteria responsible for tooth decay. I don't want the sugar or HFCS in my diet, which is why I'm looking for soda recipes. We also have the soda stream (and distilled water) but also plain old carbonated water can be found in the super markets next to the club soda. Thanks for your efforts here! Tom

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    3. Thanks for weighing in on the xylitol. I've always liked the flavor of it and other sugar alcohols, but many people experience diarrhea with high levels of sugar alcohol use. And while it is a lower calorie sweetener, it's not a no calorie sweetener.

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  13. you mentioned that adding caffeine was optional...how and/or where would I get said caffeine?

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    Replies
    1. Search for "Food Grade Caffeine Powder" or "Caffeine USP" which is pharmaceutical grade.

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  14. Why would anyone want to add caffeine? It's so harmful to your body! FYI, Mountain Dew has bromenated vegetable oil which stores in fat and an excess of it can cause psychosis. Dr. OZ had a story on it.

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    Replies
    1. Some people want to get their caffeine fix, which I must say they do at their own risk. Because I've never been a big fan of doin' the Dew, I always assumed it's popularity was due to the high caffeine content, not the flavor. There are better citrus sodas out there.

      You have to pick your poison, I guess. Some people get psychosis from brominated vegetable oil, some people die from drinking all-natural, unpasteurized apple juice.

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    2. Nah, I love the flavor but wish it didn't have the caffeine! :)

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  15. I'm living in Brazil as an American with my wife. The thing I miss the most is Mountain Dew. So, a big thank you for the recipe. My question is, "What are you using to carbonate the water? Do you need a machine or is there another way to carbonate the water? I have made Homemade root beer with yeast and sugar. Can you do the carbonation with the same process???

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    Replies
    1. Tyler,
      I'm using water carbonated with a cornelius keg. They are the old 5 gallon tanks used for soda fountains before the bag-in-box syrup systems were in wide use. The sodastream machines are becoming increasingly popular, and those would work as well.
      I'm not sure what you'll find being in Brazil, but you certainly can go the yeast fermentation route. Increase the sugar in the recipe by about 1/4 cup and that should compensate for it.

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  16. Hi, I know this is a fairly old post, but I want to share something. I would like to try this recipe! My Dad has a Sodastream and it'd be cool to make my own Mnt Dew with it.

    Now, something that I have noticed. Maybe it is just me, I dunno. I have not been able to dig up ANY information to back up this theory, but sometimes when I drink a Mnt Dew, I can taste what I believe to be a hint of white grape juice. Like I said, if its in there, they are keeping it a secret (it is listed on the Mnt Dew Kick Start citrus however). But maybe adding a little bit of that could get even closer. I'd probably use Welches 100% from concentrate. Just something I wanted to share. Perhaps I will try it sometime soon and see how it goes!

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    Replies
    1. TurtleDude,
      Thanks for your insight. I personally have not noticed a white grape juice flavor, but I'll admit, I'm not much of a Dew drinker.
      If it was in there as a juice concentrate, it would have to be declared on the ingredients, but that doesn't mean the flavor is not in there under "natural flavors". Let me know how it turns out!

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  17. I just found your site. I guess I'm lucky to live in Northeast Pa. We have Sundrop and we have Diet Mt Dew. I understand the alcohol situation and the caffeine. A soda delivery man said a soda company makes diet based on how well it sells with sugar as sugar is cheaper. For serious Mt Dew drinkers there are cake recipes with it in. Thanks for the site.

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  18. I made this with slightly more sugar and half the fruit [I upped it from 400g to 1lb of sugar per gallon], no pith, only zest and 8tbsp of lemon juice. I found that boiling the zests seperately really gave it that 'Mountain Dew yellow/green' colour. It has slightly more bite than Mountain Dew has and is a bit less syrupy, but it's still really pleasant to drink, and no caffeine!!! I really hate the taste and mouthfeel of artificial sweeteners, and it's impossible now to buy squash without it, so the fact that I can boil my own cane sugar only squash is all the more pleasing than the result of my Mountain Dew trial.

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    Replies
    1. It's been a while since I heard anyone use the term "squash" in reference to a drink mix. I haven't seen that since I was in Malta, but glad to hear it worked out well for you. Great tip on the color! It's kind of a challenge to get that neon green without artificial colors.

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  19. Personally, I'm working to wean myself off of artificial sweeteners and sugar (for dietary reasons). I'm completely off artificial sweeteners and working on the sugars. However, I still LOVE Mt Dew taste. (Heaven will for sure have a good-for-you recipe of Mt. Dew on tap, right???) I could live with a lot less sugar down here though. I was hoping to make a mt. dew sparkling water version that had the flavor but less or no sugar. Then I could add it to the SodaStream when I get the urge.

    Also wondering if I can make it up in large quantities, freeze, and use in smaller doses when I'd like.

    Just thoughts.

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    Replies
    1. You could try picking up some natural orange, lemon, and lime oils from Lorann Oils. If you had the ratio right you could mix those up (no need to freeze) and really all you would have to do is add a drop to your soda stream for a sort of Mt. Dew version of La Croix. No sweeteners, just flavored sparkling water.

      I have all three of those on hand from a cola recipe, so maybe I'll give it a go and see what happens.

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  20. Tied this. It’s OK, however tastes more like Fanta Orange then Mountain Dew.

    You don't need to simmer the sugar/water for 20 min. You can actually do get away with boiling for about 3 - 4 min then letting it cool down. The longer it 'cooks' the thicker it gets.

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