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Old 03-08-2013, 05:38 AM   #1
daft
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Default Better syrup attempts for sodastream

I thought I'd make a separate topic just to list what worked and what didn't in sodastream syrup experiments. We can't really rule out failures by my amateur self, because they may work in the future with slight variations of carbonation level, brand of ingredients, and the coldness of both water and syrup (colder seems better at carbonation and combining time). Hopefully others can add or critique examples.

1) Pink Lemonade... I have mentioned this as my lucky find of a perfect easy drink. I use defrosted canned (minute maid) pink lemonade concentrate to fill most of the void above the fill line of a carbonated sodastream bottle, then tip it end over end once to mix. Amazing balance and zing... try any commercial soda after that and it will seem crude in comparison. I cut 2 slits on the bottom of the can, then widen one to allow pulp thru (rinse empty bottles well due to pulp).

2) Extra Pink Lemonade... This is a very satisfying family of drinks that lets you be creative while minimizing problems like foam backfires. Fill the upper void of bottle over half full of defrosted canned lemonade concentrate, or a lesser amount of harsh limeade. This gives an acid bite without foaming... then cautiously add something fun like grape (the usual pinking ingredient) or other rosy defrosted concentrate. Be careful... some things like orange can cause an instant foam volcano. I sometimes add concentrated flavor drops, such as cherry or amaretto. Be aware that some cheap frozen concentrates have an off taste, as if the pasteurization went overboard.

3) Breakfast Syrups... I have pretty much tamed the family of fruit syrups such as made by Smuckers. I start with about one third lemon or limeade as above. Then I slowly pour in chilled syrup like blueberry until the foam gets too high. Cap it and you will notice the cold corn based syrup doesn't mix at all. Instead of endless tipping or even shaking, I found a twisting motion of your wrist whips the stuff into solution and makes a nice translucent rose color with foamy bubbles. At least this works with the half liter bottles... the thing is you need to whip the heavy syrup out of the bulbous bottom or top.

4) Diluted fruit juice... I tried ocean sprays version of blueberry (includes some grape and apple) and half filled a liter sodastream bottle. Then fortified it with a fair amount of sugar to balance the coming carbonic acid. I then carbonated a half liter sodastream bottle (this optional size really beats the large one which lets things get old and flat) and poured it into the liter bottle. It foamed a bit maybe because wasn't chilled enough, and gave bland and undercarbonated results. Darn it, I just realized that a touch of lemon or lime would have helped. But overall I couldn't add more carb without diluting the already weak taste (I had tried this earlier)... and couldn't increase the juice without losing more carb. So it seems this gives an inferior result to blueberry syrup. Yeah, i know it could be solved by carbonating the already mixed juice, against sodastream advice.

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Old 03-14-2013, 06:44 AM   #2
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Update edit... I just now changed the order to adding sweetener last, which along with LIGHT carbing eliminates most foam volcanos before you cap it:

5) Mocha Foam... Scoop coffee-chocolate (=mocha) powder to almost fill the headroom above your lightly carbed cold water. Use a dark mocha that has minimal milk products which foam too much. I used sams club cappuccino mocha powder with about 15% powdered sugar added in to balance the carbonic acid... it will float nicely without foaming as long as you haven't added sweetener first.

Then I add some liquid syrup like (a few tablespoons of dark chilled) corn syrup which will make the sugar and foam take on a much better mouthfeel etc. Shake very well, refridge, then open very slowly over a sink, with the first glass close. Tilt towards the glass as you uncap to try to aim the first (or at least the second) glop of thick, luxurious foam into the glass... it doesn't shoot out terribly fast. Don't tilt the bottle too steeply or else the liquid will flow too fast once the foam clears.

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Old 04-06-2013, 12:57 AM   #3
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6) Conventional Italian Soda: This is the most obvious alternative to sodastream brand syrup, but is hard to get in my location. I finally found monin blackberry syrup and found as usual it needed more tartness for drinking or else tastes bland and candylike. Lime syrup or lemon froze concentrate didn't hit the spot, but I had great luck with several spoons of bottled lemon juice. Just fill the remainder of carbonated water bottle very slowly to avoid foam with chilled monin syrup. Then always tumble before uncapping because the syrup tends to sink. The result is very addictive. Not quite as good as the smuckers blackberry of my (3) which has more natural blackberry, but that one takes more trouble to mix the thick syrup.

Well, for those on the US mainland you have an incredible array of Torani or Monin syrups http://www.moninstore.com/prod_Lines...Premium-Syrups that you can get at reasonable prices, at least by ordering in volume. I sure wish I could try their desert pear, blackcurrent, etc but apparently not sold or shipped here at any price.

P.S. I have confirmed the half liter sodastream bottles have a bigger percentage of headroom and are much easier to avoid foam than their liter bottles. The reason is there is a fixed amount of vertical room to the fill line (based on injector length), but a shorter length below the fill line in the smaller bottle.

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Old 04-06-2013, 05:29 PM   #4
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Daft,

Have you tried the Rio concentrates from Prairie Moon? I don't see them mentioned in your posts. I'm not sure where you live, but they ship to Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada. I just ordered some Rio concentrates myself and they haven't arrived yet, so I can't vouch for the quality. But there are some posts about them on the older pages of this forum and the general consensus about them seemed positive.

You have a lot of interesting ideas there. My challenge is that I want my soda sugar-free and also sucralose-free -- so that leaves out most of the commercial syrups. My sweetener of choice is stevia liquid extract. So I'm doing my own experiments and may post about them at a later date. But it's fun to experiment and to read about what everybody else is trying, so thanks and good luck.

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Old 04-06-2013, 06:21 PM   #5
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Oh, I see http://www.prairiemoon.biz/Syrup-Con...ist_c_553.html and I will await your judgement. I did try more concentrated one ounce or less flavor drop bottles from Capella and Bakto which were at first promising. But then I realized if I forgot which flavor it was, they all kind of tasted the same... I did not try Capellas special stevia line which is to flavor water http://capellaflavordrops.com/waterflavors.aspx . I will post my best use of the regular flavor drops:

7) Lemonade Twist: Fill most of the remaining space of a sodastream carbonated bottle with thawed lemonade concentrate from a can, but keep it on the weak side. Then add about 4 flavor drops of your choice from http://capellaflavordrops.com/flavordrops.aspx or the bakto line from amazon.com. Best not to use the savory creamy flavors because they have a trace of oil that won't mix, but fruit or nut or chocolate or cola flavors mix ok and give a vaguely recognizable twist to the lemonade drink.

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Old 04-06-2013, 07:01 PM   #6
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Sure. The Rio concentrates should arrive today or Monday. I ordered cola, vanilla, and cream soda, so I'll let you know how those turn out. If I like them I'll probably try a bunch more -- the Rio concentrates have like 70 different flavors, so the options are almost overwhelming.

The Capella drops look very interesting. I may try some of those after I sample the Rio concentrates. Thanks for the suggestion.

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Old 04-06-2013, 10:39 PM   #7
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Firefly-- i can say with confidence the cola is wonderful. I ordered 6 of the Rio concentrate and my son has been having a blast mixing different ones together for something totally new. They are worth spending the money getting in my books.

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Old 04-07-2013, 07:09 AM   #8
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Kythcat -- thanks. The Rio concentrates arrived today and yes the cola was great.

I have not been using my Sodastream very long, but I can say that after trying the Sodastream syrups (OK, but full of sugar/sucralose), Kool-aid (meh) and green tea (yuck), today was a revelation. Finally some good-quality homemade soda!

The package came with a small plastic cup for measuring and a page with recipes for making and using the syrup, which I thought was a nice touch. Since I am using stevia extract I had to tweak the recipe quite a lot, and I''m still tweaking. I think it almost goes without saying that many of us will need to alter the recipe this way or that way to suit our taste. But that's half the fun.

The instructions call for making a syrup and then using the syrup to make soda by the glass. I actually quite like this. Yeah, you could say that it's an extra pain-in-the-neck step. But to me, putting the flavor in the bottle can be an even bigger pain, and the SS bottles are kind of small and don't last long anyway. I also like that when I want a glass of soda I'm not limited to flavors that have already been mixed up in a bottle. Finally, since I only put purified water in the SS bottles I don't need to wash them nearly as often. But to daft, if you still prefer mixing your soda in the bottle I'm sure with a little math and perhaps some trial-and-error you can figure out how to mix these concentrates in a bottle.

So for the flavors... the vanilla was my favorite and IMO compares favorably with store-bought soda. I'll definitely buy more of this. The cola was wonderful. I'm not what you would call a connoisseur of cola -- for me, there is Coke and then there is everything else. But for something in the "everything else" category, this was very good.

The cream soda was my least-favorite, but still good. It had a bit of a tang that the plain vanilla lacked, which is why I didn't like it as much but maybe others would.

So now I am hooked and can't wait to try a whole bunch of new flavors.

I also found this page today which has a lot of helpful information: http://www.rodsbooks.com/sodas/

So the Rio concentrates are technically for shaved ice. Apparently there are a lot of shaved ice syrups/concentrates that work well in soda. Based on the info from that webpage, I went to the 1-800-shaved-ice site -- just to look. Turns out they're having a sale on the concentrates right now, so I got sucked in and bought three little bottles. As with Prairie Moon, the shipping charge is a bit high so I'm not sure what's up with that.

I also went to the Rio website and they make a bunch of flavors that Prairie Moon doesn't carry. But if you buy direct from Rio the concentrates are more expensive...yet some of those flavors look interesting. Yes, I am officially hooked.

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Old 04-07-2013, 05:18 PM   #9
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To daft -- again, I don't know where you live but if you live in Hawaii and you like the idea of using shaved ice flavors for soda, you're in luck. Apparently there are quite a lot of shaved ice suppliers in Hawaii, including this place: http://www.shaveicesupplies.com/shav...avors-c-1.html which looks to be one of the more popular brands.

As for me, it seems to me that even the flavors that aren't good for making soda might be good in smoothies or homemade ice cream.

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Old 04-07-2013, 11:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefly72 View Post
I also found this page today which has a lot of helpful information: http://www.rodsbooks.com/sodas/
That is pretty interesting, although I fail to see why he has an obsession with laboriously reducing the syrup to the compact concentration of original sodastream packets. You have the whole top of the bottle space to add syrup and may as well fill it. If you top off with corn syrup or thawed can of juice concentrate or maybe even invert sugar (I assume that is what monin, etc is based on) you will be plenty sweet, especially in the smaller bottles with greater percent headroom. If you want more compact sweetness, he fails to mention agave syrup which seems to be the only natural sugar that is more concentrated than even high fructose CS.

He also fails to see the alternative of using lemon juice instead of powdered citric acid for tartness. The citric acid, especially from natural lemon, is essential to the taste of making almost any syrup drinkable. Look at recipes for almost any soda and it is there... only kids like the alternative of liquid candy. Originally coke and a few others used phosphate acid instead, only because they couldn't get fresh lemons year round. Why go to the effort of tracking down granular citric acid, then measuring a tiny bit and worrying about foam? Some lemon juices come with oil from the zest, which can be hard to dissolve though.

I guess I will post a recent success after i switched from corn syrup to agave syrup:

8) Non fermented Root Beer: I got the cheap deal on amazon for almost a lifetime supply of Zatarains root beer extract. I shake the sediment off the bottom of extract bottle and pour the smallest droplet I can manage. Then fill much of the headspace with chilled agave syrup, cap, shake and rechill. Agave is intensely sweet, doesn't foam upon combination, yet gives just the right foam when you shake the slightly thick syrup into solution. Has a very compatible light flavor like birch beer. I suspect the flavor of zatarain extract doesn't really develop unless you ferment with yeast, but it's good enough with the pricey agave.
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