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It’s summer and all I want to do these days is relax with a fizzy beverage, but I can’t stand too-sweet soft drinks! In this CRAFT Video, I show you how easy it is to make your own soda at home, and it’s inexpensive, too! I use brewer’s yeast to produce carbon dioxide, and whatever flavors come to the imagination. In the video I used honey, green tea, strawberries, and grated ginger, but you can use any combination of fruits, juices, fresh herbs, and sweeteners that you like. Thanks to Matt Mets for the tea recipe inspiration.

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Ingredients and supplies:

  • 2L or other plastic bottle with cap
  • Funnel
  • Cheesecloth (optional)
  • Food thermometer
  • Brewer’s yeast Get online or from your local homebrew store; tell them you’re making soda and they’ll get you the right kind. Don’t use bread yeast!
  • Sweetener (for the yeast to eat, you can use honey, cane sugar, etc.)
  • Water, tea, or juice
  • Other flavors of your choice

Sanitation isn’t as much of a concern when making your own soda as it is when making your own beer or wine, but if you can, start with boiled water (good for brewing tea anyway). Boiling fruit juice might change the flavor, so experiment, but don’t worry too much about keeping your batch completely bacteria-free. Combine your flavorings and sweetener, then let the batch cool to 80–85°F before adding the yeast (hot water will kill the yeast).

Add about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of your brewers yeast, cap, and shake to dissolve. Place the mixture in a quiet place (between 65-85°F) for 24 hours. Yeast produces carbon dioxide as it processes sugar. It also produces alcohol, but since we’ll only be leaving the mixture at active temperatures for about a day, the actual amount of alcohol is minuscule (homemade beers use way more yeast and are let to sit for about 10 days, to give you a reference point). Yes, it’s OK for your kids to drink it, provided you don’t have a religious restriction on fermented things. When produced in a capped container like a soda bottle, the CO2 becomes dissolved in the liquid as pressure builds up.

After a day, feel the bottle; it should be very firm now as the CO2 has pressurized the bottle. Chill it down before opening it; gasses stay dissolved in liquids better at colder temperatures just like solids stay dissolved better at hotter temperatures. If you open it too soon, most or all of the CO2 your yeast friends made will fly right out. Pour over ice and you’ve got an enjoyable, refreshing fizzy treat.

One more recipe idea (pictured above): combine the juice of 3 grapefruits and sugar/honey water to make just under 2L of liquid (boil the water before you mix in the sugars), then drop in a handful each of frozen strawberries and pineapple. Blend and let cool, then strain into the bottle and add the yeast. It’s like a fizzy grapefruit smoothie!

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is head of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I thought using yeast like this would ferment the beverage, making it alcoholic, not just bubbly.

  2. Becky Stern says:

    @Anonymous, if you read the post, you’d see that I address that concern. You’ll end up with a drink that’s less than 1% alcohol, as the yeast makes comparatively way more CO2.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Actually, it was either Make or Craft that inspired me to make my own soda over a year ago, and their recipe used baking yeast. The results have always turned out just fine, to the delight of me and my guests.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Do you store it in the fridge after the initial 24 hour fermentation period? How long does it last?

  5. Mr. Karl says:

    I realize the flavors are per taste, but how much sugar/honey is needed to activate the yeast?

  6. Anonymous says:

    You can flash ferment to 4-5 ABV in a few hours. It is all relative to the MAX temp, sugar content, and yeast load. Yeast + Sugar = 2CO2 + 2ETOH. Excess sugar, yeast, and heat(to a point) will increase the CO2 and ETOH. I think you may get 1-2% ABV if you follow this guide. Most adults wouldn’t notice that, but don’t let your kid drink the whole bottle.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “as the yeast makes comparatively way more CO2″
    Nope, yeast makes 2CO2 and 2ETOH. You may notice the carbonation more than the alcohol, but it is still there.

  8. Becky Stern says:

    Heh, I guess I meant “more” by volume.

  9. Becky Stern says:

    For my second bottle, I added about 3 tablespoons of honey and 3 tablespoons of cane sugar, and it turned out just right. Remember that the yeast eats some of the sugar, so you want enough to be left over to make the drink sweet!

  10. Tammie serpa says:

    I followed recipe exactly. I used 1/4 teaspoon brewers yeast. used digital thermometer to measure temp. 24 hrs later my bottle did not get hard. Don’t know whether to wait another 24 hours or go ahead an put it in the frig. to get cold and just try it? Couldn’t find a expiration date on brewers yeast. Could I have used baking yeast? How much?

  11. Tammie serpa says:

    Followed directions using brewers yeast. used digital thermometer to check temp. Bottle is not getting hard. Don’t know whether to wait another 24 hours then refrigerate 24 hours. didn’t see expiration date on brewers yeast. Could I have used baking yeast and how much?

  12. MollyBee says:

    When you use bread yeast, do you use the same amount as she does in this recipe?