Over a year ago I was reading an article in the LA Times about reducing the carbon footprint of the food we eat. It occurred to me that the Pellegrino bottled water we loved to drink is shipped here all the way from Italy. Suddenly I had a vision of a giant cargo ship stacked with shipping containers filled with green glass bottles chugging its way across the ocean. I was horrified at the thought and vowed right then to stop buying it.
But there was a problem. We love our bubble water. So, we switched to buying carbonated water from Trader Joe’s which comes in plastic bottles and is manufactured locally. Still, I felt bad. We would drink almost a bottle a day, and even though we recycled the bottles, it seemed like a lot of plastic going in the bin, not to mention the cost adds up after a while.
Fast forward to a few months ago and I came across a product called the SodaStream. I was really impressed, but didn’t buy it because even the least expensive model at $99 sounded like a lot of money. Then summer came and I saw how many bottles of water we were going through and I thought it was time to take another look. The more I read, the more I was impressed. I decided to order one and about a week later had it in my hot little hands. Usually I drink my soda water with just a splash of juice, but as soon as I got this I started dreaming up all the different syrups I could create for it. See below the recipe for my review of the SodaStream Soda Maker.
I love ginger ale, and this was my first attempt at making a syrup to be used for a soda. Many recipes you might see for ginger ale involve adding yeast to assist in the fermentation which creates bubbles (root beer is made in a similar way). But I’m not really interested in making ginger beer here, and I’ve already got the bubbles, so all I needed was a syrup to flavor the water.
I made two batches at the same time to start. One was a simple syrup made with 1:1 ratio of 2 c. white sugar and 2 c. water and 4 oz fresh peeled ginger. The second was made with the same ratio of sugar to water, but I used half brown sugar and in addition to the ginger, I added some spices to, well, spice it up!
The second batch was the hands down winner; not only was the flavor better, but the color was much more along the lines of what I expected.
Ginger Syrup for Ginger Ale
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup palm sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 cups water
4 oz peeled and sliced ginger (I started with 6-7 oz whole fresh ginger)
2 tsp cardamom pods
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp peppercorns
3 ea. star anise pods
In a small pot, combine the sugars with the water and add the peeled and sliced ginger. I used the palm sugar (in the photo at the top) because I had it, but you can also use 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup white .
Toast the whole spices in a saute pan until they just begin to brown and become fragrant. Add them to the sugar and water mixture and bring it to a simmer. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes and then turn off the heat.
Allow to steep until cool. At this point you can strain it into a clean container and store it in the refrigerator. Chill.
For me, 2 Tbsp of syrup with 12 oz soda water and some ice makes a very refreshing glass of ginger ale.
The SodaStream Soda Maker
I’m totally thrilled with my SodaStream. There are 4 different models, ranging in price from $99 to $199. The biggest difference is in the styling and that the most expensive model ( called the Penguin) uses glass bottles instead of plastic. I ordered the least expensive model and could not be happier. It also uses a larger carbonator canister so that means less frequent changing and ordering. The other models come with smaller, slimmer canisters. I ordered the “Value Pack” which came with an extra CO2 canister, 2 extra bottles and free shipping (this is great bang for the buck). I also ordered 2 extra bottle caps because I just know one will get lost. So far we’ve made over 30 bottles of fizzy water.
*Refill the empty bottle with fresh water as soon as it’s empty so there’s always some cold and ready to be carbonated (it works best with cold water). We keep all 4 bottles filled with water in the refrigerator, 2 fizzy, 2 flat.
*I put my syrup in a squeeze bottle and keep that in the refrigerator. I just squeeze some into a glass and add some soda when I want it rather than making a full bottle of ginger ale.
*They recommend 3 “buzzes” of the machine to get the water carbonated and we’ve found that 4 work best for us (extra fizzy!)
*Don’t fill the bottles past the fill line. Trust me on this, I learned the hard way!
What I like:
*Convenient and Inexpensive; make your own soda any time at home for about .20 cents a liter.
*It’s environmentally friendly:
It comes with reusable bottles, so no waste, no landfill and the bottles are good for 3 years.
It does not use electricity or batteries (great for RVs and Boats too!).
The carbonator canisters are exchanged and recharged
No pollution caused by shipping and driving to buy cases of soda and water (hello, Pellegrino!)
*You can make your water a fizzy as you want it to be.
*You can make your own flavored soda and if you want to use their syrups (they have over 20 flavors), they don’t contain high fructose corn syrup. This means you can also control how much sugar your kids drink.
*The SodaStream syrups contain Splenda, even the non-diet ones. We tried their cola syrup and neither of us liked it but I never drink anything with artificial sweeteners because I don’t like the taste. I will be posting more syrup and drink recipes as I develop them and other syrups can be purchased elsewhere.
*The other issue that you should be aware of is that everything is proprietary. This means you must use their bottles and their CO2 canisters.
I did not receive anything from SodaStream, nor did they ask me to write this. I bought it myself and just like it so much I wanted to share. I think it’s a great product if you want to be healthy, environmentally conscious, and fiscally responsible.
If you think you’d like to order one, I’d appreciate it if you did so through one of the links to the right on my blog. With each order, I get a very tiny percentage which will help keep this blog otherwise ad-free.