On one of my whims, I decided to ascertain if it would be possible for me to make my own cream soda. I like cream soda. It's one of those drinks that doesn't tend to last long when I buy a bottle... Whatever size of bottle I find, it's generally empty in a couple of days, and that's when I'm struggling to ration it. Cream soda is lovely. Cream soda is moreish.
So, obviously, drinking any significant amount would be a rather expensive proposition, particularly where the good stuff is concerned..
The internet, thankfully, has a large number of recipes for making this stuff at home. Most of them seems to employ soda water or soda syphons, and the recipe is actually for a syrup concentrate rather than a full bottle of drink. That sounds like the easy/cheaty way out and, for whatever reason, I didn't feel like taking the easy/cheaty way out on this one. A bit more research turned up some recipes that can be adapted for all kinds of fizz, from Ginger Beer to Root Beer (another favourite of mine - I got addicted to the stuff when I first went to the States!) with plenty of room to manoeuvre in between. The trick seems to be in the use of a small amount of yeast...
- Sugar (I used Waitrose Light Brown Muscovado Raw Cane Sugar)
- Vanilla extract (Ndali's - previously used on my Off-Key Lime Pie meringues)
- Yeast (a pack of 8 sachets weighed in at 82p at Tesco, but you only need a tiny bit!)
- Cream of Tartar (optional)
- 750ml bottle (must have a good seal!)
Stick your funnel into the neck of your bottle and dump in six tablespoons of the sugar of your choice. Yes, that's a lot of sugar. What did you expect? Turned out that my choice of sugar wasn't ideal because it tended to just clump and block the funnel. My solution? A bigger funnel. Processed sugar would be less inclined to clump, and would result in a clearer drink as an end result but, whatever kind you use, it should be as fine as possible.
Next add a tablespoon of your vanilla extract, and a tiny fraction of a teaspoon of yeast. Because such a small amount is used, it might be better to buy a tub or tin of yeast. It tends to be incredibly cheap, so the little used by this recipe will go an awfully long way. Hey, maybe I'll make some bread from scratch. At this stage you could also add some cream of tartar - approximately double the quantity of yeast - which. Finally, fill up the bottle with water.
At this point, I should make a point about what type of water to use. Tapwater should be fine, but the varying levels of hardness, the chlorination and flouridation all add up to make a bizarre chemical concoction which isn't necessarily ideal for this kind of thing. You could boil your water beforehand, or you could just use bottled water, though that tends to be just as high - if not higher - in mineral content as tapwater. Any amount of research into Coca Cola will show that the flavour varies quite considerably depending on where in the world it was manufactured/bottled, so the importance of your choice of water should not come as a surprise. I used bottled water this time, just to see how it would turn out.
Put the cap back on the bottle and shake the mixture up to dissolve the sugar, etc. Leave the bottle in a warm environment, out of direct sunlight, for at least two days. You may want to decant the resultant drink into a new bottle, hopefully leaving the yeast behind as a sediment.
Well, after producing so much win with my truffles and minty-truffly tart, the universe clearly required that I deliver some fail.
Y'know, just for a change.
I'm not sure how much alcohol is produced by this method, but this first batch definitely had a slightly yeasty mustiness to it and the odour is, to be perfectly honest, more than a little beery.
The flavour of cream soda is in there somewhere, but I can quite honestly call this version a failure. Either there was just not enough sugar and vanilla extract, or I somehow managed to put in too much yeast... But then, after about 48 hours of fermentation, the only bubbles I got were in the initial fizz when I first opened the bottle, and the - admittedly very satisfying - head of foam I saw when I decanted the drink into a new bottle. On the tongue, it's about as effervescent as slightly flat beer. Does that suggest too little yeast, or simply the need for a longer fermentation period?
Further experimentation is needed... And the results are in on batches 2 and 3...