If you own a soda maker, then you know the manufacturer rules: you must only use water! But as The New York Times recently wrote, a few adventurous drinkers are flouting those instructions and using home carbonators to concoct everything from sparkling wines to non-alcoholic fruit sodas. How do they do it, and what's more, is it safe?
In 2012 Americans bought roughly 1.2 million home carbonators, according to the Times. Homemade seltzer "is space-saving, inexpensive and environmentally friendly," the Times writes. (We agree! We've been using SodaStreams for years, and we loved the recent Yves Behar-designed model.)
Given the popularity, it's no surprise people have taken the machines "off-label", first by mixing syrup into the water pre-fizz (the Times reports that Morris Kitchen's Preserved Lemon and P & H's grapefruit makes particularly lovely soda) and then adding fruit juice, wine, and liquor — sometimes risking damage to the machine (but only the machine, thank goodness).
But the results are worth it. Gregory Brainin, director of culinary development for the Jean-Georges restaurant group, "infused white wine with basil and mint leaves, and then fizzed red wine with orange and pineapple, creating an instant sparkling sangria in which the fruit was still crunchy and bright." Dave Arnold, formerly the director of culinary technology at the International Culinary Center, made a "fizzy rum punch without the rum" by fizzing together brown sugar, charred wood chips, passion fruit juice, pineapple juice, cherry juice and water.
So how can novice soda makers be successful? Here are a few starting tips, according to the Times:
All-juice mixtures can be too thick and pulpy to carbonate, Mr. Arnold said. Strained juice, mixed with water, often produces the best results... For successful and controlled carbonation, it's important to have cold liquid, plenty of kitchen towels and patience.
At first, add a small amount of liquid to the machine at a time. And after charging, wait until the foamy head has subsided, then slowly and gradually remove the bottle, as if opening a shaken-up bottle of soda. "You're taking the liquid from a pressurized to a nonpressurized situation," he said, covering a bottle overflowing with a just-fizzed cocktail of Campari and gin. "It just wants to expand."
Have you gone off-label with your home soda maker? Tell us your experiences!
Read More: Home, Where the Fizz Is | The New York Times
Related: SodaStream Source by Yves Béhar
(Image: Faith Durand)