We love our SodaStream. After years of overpaying for bottled seltzer (and all of that plastic), bottling our own fizzy water is a great way to cut both our grocery bill and our environmental footprint. It’s also a lot of fun. The kids love it as much as Ian and I do, although they’re certainly partial to flavored drinks.
And that’s the rub: the SodaStream flavored syrups are insipid. That’s not really a surprise — there’s no reason that a company so good at making kitchen hardware would also excel at making food. For my palate, they’re too sweet and artificial-tasting, and I’m not very excited by the prospect of putting them into something I’m serving to our children.
This morning, we decided to try something different. We’ve been meaning to make it back to one of our favorite spots — Verrill Farm in Concord, Massachusetts — for a while. I love it because of their produce selection, the kids because they look forward to playing on the hills that overlook the fields. While we were there, I picked up some gorgeous Meyer lemons, a few limes, a pint of blackberries, and some beautiful fresh mint.
When we arrived home, we planned our syrups: a reduction of fresh peaches we had on-hand, the blackberries with mint, the limes added to some raspberries (we always have raspberries around this time of year), and the Meyer lemons with some fresh rosemary that our friend Josh was kind enough to share with us.
For the peach syrup: we chopped the peaches and cooked them in 1/2 cup of water for about 15-20 minutes until they were soft and fragrant. I poured the hot mixture into a 2 cup measuring cup and pureed them with the immersion blender. The kids really enjoyed watching how quickly the peaches were pureed. We then strained the mixture and let it cool. The peaches were pretty ripe and naturally sweet without any added sugar.
For the blackberry & mint syrup: We muddled the package of mint, and tore the leaves to pieces for good measure. These we combined with a pint of fresh blackberries in a pot with 1/2 cup of water. We cooked the mixture for about 10 minutes until it came to a boil and then transferred it to the measuring cup for pureeing. At that point, we stirred a tablespoon of sugar into the mixture while it was still warm and then put it through the strainer and left it to cool.
For the raspberry & lime syrup: I combined the zest of two limes, the juice of five limes, and one and a half cups of fresh raspberries in a pot with 1 cup of water (since there wasn’t any juice) and a tablespoon of sugar. It cooked until it boiled. Then I simply pureed and strained it.
For the Meyer lemon and rosemary syrup: We combined the zest of two of the lemons with the juice of four. To these we added the leaves of a single small stem of rosemary. To this mixture we added about 1 cup of water and simmered on the stove at medium-low heat for about 40 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon of sugar about half-way through. Once the mixture had reduced by about 1/3, we removed it from the stove and strained immediately, allowing it to cool before transferring it to a jar.
How I got the kids involved:
- Everybody loves to muddle mint. We gave them a spoon and a bowl and let them go to town.
- Picking rosemary leaves off of the stem is a job made for a child — in this case, Princess Terrifica.
- Squeezing the juice from citrus is the kind of task kids were born to do. I had them all squeezing both lemons and limes (and squealing with laughter).
Variations and notes for next time:
- The Meyer lemon and rosemary mixture would probably have benefited from an overnight infusion: reducing the lemon juice and then letting the rosemary soak in it overnight before cooking and straining. We skipped that for time’s sake, but the flavor would probably be a little more refined if we had tried that.
- Next time I’d puree the blackberries and raspberries before I added other ingredients (rather than after). This would probably deliver the same texture but without the cooking (I prefer the flavor of uncooked berries).
- I’d probably avoid cooking with the zest next time. Our syrups don’t taste particularly bitter, but we’d be able to avoid using sugar to counteract the oils if we used just the juice of the berries.
More SodaStream-Related Goodness:
- There’s an great post from last week on Geek.com with instructions on hacking your SodaStream to hold a larger CO2 tank. I’ll probably pass on doing this (pretty sure it would void the warranty), but it’s worth passing along.
- If you’re not a SodaStream owner (and don’t plan to be one), SavingByMaking has what looks to be a really good homemade soda recipe that doesn’t require a machine.
A Quick Aside:
It looks like there are a lot of blogs out there that are taking part in a large SodaStream giveaway. While it would be nice to give things to my readers (or, for that matter, to get more things for free), I have no such relationship with the brand or manufacturer.
Where to Find Everything:
11 Wheeler Road