5@5 - Make your own soda syrup at home
September 9th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

America's taste for soda isn't fizzing out anytime soon. A recent report by the National Center for Health Statistics found that half of Americans sip sugary drinks daily.

However, there's no need to stick to the store-bought, corn syrup-laden mélange of flavors: Homemade sodas are not only healthier, they allow for experimentation with whatever flavor tickles your fancy.

All you need is some soda water - either bought or carbonated at home with a seltzer maker - and a little know-how from twin sisters Hannah and Isabel of Sisterhand Syrups.

Five Tips on Making Your Own Soda Syrup at Home: Sisterhand Syrups

1. Use the best ingredients in full concentration
"Better ingredients mean better flavor and in making syrup for soda, you want as much flavor as possible to get a very concentrated flavor. Having concentrated syrup is important so as not to have a weak flavor when it becomes soda. In figuring out ratios, it’s pretty much up to your taste. We use 2 to 3 ounces of syrup to 12 ounces of soda water."

2. Learn to manipulate your ingredients
"When working with your flavoring ingredients, be sure to chop or cut them into small pieces. This will allow you to extract maximum flavor by exposing more surface area."

3. Simple syrup is your friend
"All syrups should be simple syrup based, meaning starting with one part water and one part sugar, then adding at least two parts of your flavorant.

Heat the mixture until it starts to boil, then turn off the heat and let it all steep together for 30 minutes or until cool enough to transfer to another container and place in the refrigerator.

When using fruit, be sure to use a little less sugar, otherwise the amount of sugar in the fruit mixed with the amount of sugar you're adding can make the syrup too sweet."

4. Organic sugar is your other friend
"We use organic sugar in our syrups, but this isn't a must. If you feel guilty about drinking soda because of the sugar content, you might feel a bit better if it's organic."

5. Choosing flavors should be fun
"In choosing flavors think classic, like a fruit flavor or ginger, but also outside of the box, like an herb flavor. Also try experimenting with using different kinds of sweeteners, such as honey. You could even mix flavors to create even more interesting combos, such as strawberry-basil or ginger-lemongrass.

This summer, our favorite flavors were ginger and orange-honey, but we also experimented with lemongrass, basil, coffee and strawberry. Also, garnishes showing what flavor you used could also give your soda a nice 'sophisticated' appeal."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Steve

    Call it what you like, flavored sweet fizzy drinks are fun to make, and fun to drink. COME ON PEOPLE! This is not health food! I believe that being HAPPY makes me healthier...and cream soda makes me happy every time! Even you health food nuts crave soda pop or you wouldn't have visited this site...Ha..your busted! Just have a soda pop and smile because its yummy and fun!

    July 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  2. bad2worse

    Jarritos are a great taste option to the common coke and pepsi brands.

    September 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  3. Jim

    There's nothing like Jarritos Tamarindo

    September 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • JB

      Thank god for that!

      September 13, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  4. Daniel

    What's up withe Jarritos bottles in the picture?

    September 10, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • Joe


      September 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  5. cathleen

    Years ago, we bought a concentrate rootbeer flavor . When the children at school had a dance or party, they would make rootbeer soda. Following the instructions on the bottle (I believe it was A & Z brand), they would add water and dry ice for carbonation. They would make a whole huge cooler of the drink. Don't know how healthy it was by today's standards but it was cost effective and the kids loved it.

    September 10, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • cathleen

      Sorry, made a mistake. It was A&W brand or Hires???We added sugar, of course.

      September 10, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Rootbeerman

      I buy my root beer extract from zatarain's. You can also find it at home brew shops. I make it in 2 litre pop bottles with 1/8th tsp of yeast, 5 oz sugar, and about 2 tbs of extract. 2 days on the counter makes the carbonation.

      September 11, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  6. Jay Beaudin

    20 years of soda making and I know anyone would have figured this news within one CO2 cartrige.

    September 10, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  7. Jay Beaudin

    More bubble than substance. Been making my own soda 20 years and anyone would figure these 'ideas' out within a couple of CO2s.

    September 10, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  8. JJ

    Garlic soda!

    September 10, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  9. PaleoRules

    For an encore do you try to buy toilet paper at a toy store?

    September 9, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • PaleoRules

      sorry folks–reply fail.

      September 9, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
      • Odoyle Rules


        September 9, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  10. phoodphite

    I find diluting juices I already have on hand for breakfast with sparkling water a good way to make something refreshing that isn't too sweet. For instance orange juice, lemonade and sparkling water in nearly equal parts.

    September 9, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • raspberrysoda

      i do the same! i get this delicious raspberry apple juice at my farmers market and i mix half soda water and half juice, very tasty

      September 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  11. Tom

    How to make your own hotdogs. How to make your own soda. How to make your own napkins. How to kill as much time as possible until he gets home. How to make a new husband. How to make a clone of myself. How to make your own aspirin. How to make a new mother-in-law. How to make an excuse making machine from scratch. How to make a new brain.

    September 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • phoodphite

      and THEN, all in an instant.....

      one less bell to answer..

      one less egg to fry.....

      September 9, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Melissa

      Or...you are the laziest person on the planet, and pay other people to do or make the smallest thing. Perhaps you need an article on how to wipe your own a$$?

      September 10, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  12. David

    This is typical media edutainment. I was at the doctor's office and read a magazine devoted to parents. It was, at best, written at a 4th grade level. Idiocracy much?

    September 9, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  13. alf

    I like flavored colas the most, and cola is next to impossible to make at home

    September 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  14. CMNYC

    It is still sugar and sugar is killing the nation. Rather than investing in nutritionally deceitful syrups, colorants, and seltzers, I'd suggest investing in a Reverse Osmosis water purification system (to get the toxic FLUORIDATION out of your drinking water!) and then simply enjoy a glass of clean cold water. Soda was not made in nature = soda is not a human beverage.

    September 9, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • mjg

      Sugar the gateway drug!!

      September 9, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • HILLKING812

      Go hug a tree.

      September 10, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • Melissa

      Um, perfectly filtered water wasn't a human beverage for millenia either, and yet my ancestors stayed alive. I'm sure this club soda with lemonade won't kill me.

      September 10, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Tesarra

      How to break this to you gently... Soda WAS actually first invented in nature. Haven't you ever heard of soda springs? They're natural springs where carbonation has been introduced by the minerals the water has percolated through. People used to use them to make fizzy lemonade and other beverages for ages before Pepsi and Coca Cola came along.

      September 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  15. ngc1300

    Well, you know how some people are. If it's organic, it's OK. So, try a nice organic cup of strychnine, or maybe some organic botulinus toxin, or how about a beautiful cup of castor beans, ricin included. They're all organic. Organic food makes sense if you can afford it, but many can't. I'll wager you die faster not eating organic food you can't afford, than eating conventional food you can. Organic ain't magic.

    September 9, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • kasey

      Thing about fruit and vegetables is, buy what tastes good to you so that you'll eat it, whether that's organic or not. In the long run, the health benefits from eating the fruit and vegetables far outweight the negligible benefits of buying organic vs non-organic. I do prefer brown eggs from cage free chickens, but that's just because I feel the taste of the yolk is richer with the cage free and I enjoy eating them more. I'll pay a little extra for that.

      September 9, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
      • Melissa

        Great, common sense reply, Kasey. Pretty refreshing around here.

        September 10, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  16. PaleoRules

    Is anyone else vagely amused that CNN is alternating stories about diabetes and weight loss with Eatocracy features about sodas and smores?

    September 9, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  17. Florian

    Tarragon soda, anybody?

    September 9, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  18. LauraJ

    The heck with syrup, just use carbonated water and fruit juices. Makes excellent soda!

    September 9, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • PaleoRules

      if you use juices from concentrate it isn't that much better for you, actually. Juice from fruit you have just squeezed (from one serving-sized portion) I can see in moderation.

      September 9, 2011 at 11:24 pm |

    I made tomato soda, but it just tasted like tomato.

    September 9, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  20. harinegumi


    September 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • Kevin B

      Creme soda (using the store-bought syrup) with a very strong peppermint tea makes a very good soda.

      For sugar-free soda, try the Mio drops. Quick and easy.

      September 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  21. Serinanth

    You can buy concentrated syrups easily at Bed bath and beyond, or online Sodastream has tons of flavors. Save making the simple syrup for Mojito's ;)

    September 9, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  22. Rglovan

    It's "Pop" NOT "Soda".

    Get it right!!!

    September 9, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • kasey

      No, it's Soda Pop. Get it right.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • Nicole

      If you're from the mid-west, it's "pop." If you're from the east or west coast, it's "soda." Get over yourself.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
      • Nicole

        Actually, Kasey's got it right. It is "Soda Pop."

        September 9, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
      • Angus

        No, it is tonic. At least in Boston. Who cares what anyone else calls it, they are wrong.

        September 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Schmedley

      I thought every soft drink was called a coke...

      September 9, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
      • Elspeth

        Schmedley must be from the ATL area...you ask for a "coke" and they ask "what kind" since every non-alcoholic drink except sweet tea is a "coke" in the Home Town of Coke

        Oh...and don't ever ask for a Pepsi in ATL...them's fighting words,

        September 9, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
      • Walter

        In the Steel City it was either pop or gimme a Coke.

        September 9, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
      • Brandy

        It's a southern thing. I'm from Alabama and most of us refer to any carbonated beverage as a Coke, "Pick me up a Coke." "What kind?" "A Dr Pepper". :) A lot of elderly southerns refer to them as Co-Coley's.

        September 9, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • jdurand1970

      I think it depends on where you're from. I know in the northeast we used to call it "paaaawp" (yes, there usually is an extended "a" sound).

      Most folks I know these days call it soda or, generically, "coke".

      September 9, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Amy

      And if you're from the south, it's Coke... even if it's Pepsi!

      September 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Darlene

      I'm with Angus..in Boston we called it Tonic
      I live in Phoenix now so it's all gatorade and water for me
      Oh and lots of beer too

      September 9, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • fizzy

      NO...it's SODI POP.

      September 10, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • HILLKING812

      in southern Indiana it's pop.

      September 10, 2011 at 2:26 am |
  23. Dave

    I make my own syrup as well. Try this:
    one cup of sugar
    one cup of water
    one table spoon of lavender flowers
    Boil it, cool it, strain it, mix with soda water to taste. Yum!

    September 9, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Dave

      silly me, I forgot the one cup of lemon lemon juice. Sorry about that.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • kasey

      I was just about to post this. :-) Lavendar is also great in ice cream. Just steep the lavendar flowers in the custard as you cook it, then strain and chill before freezing.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  24. IntelInside

    I am saying! I was looking for the "flavorant" and other missing things-before I even got down here to read this. They say 1 part sugar, 1 part water and 2 parts flavorant, well, my job is a "flavorist" and you only need a few drops. Heck I could fix the article right here and now! Dilute KoolAid with a little hot water and use that as a flavorant if you are no where near flavors. Too much liquid woul dknock the bubbles otu anyway-so they could ot mean 2 part flavorant. Maybe two drops. I am trying to "pretend" they intended to write an article here.

    September 9, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Heather

      I'm PRETTY sure the article meant that you should use real foods as flavorants, not such-and-such extract or imitation insert-flavor-here. I.e., 1 c. water, 1 c. sugar, 2 c. lavender, blueberries, lemongrass, mint, ground coffee, or what have you. In fact, they demonstrated that this was their intent in their last paragraph or two. Using processed flavorings would entirely negate the point of making your own soda, wouldn't it now.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  25. Adam

    Do you know how difficult it is to mix soda water with syrup?

    It will make huge amounts of fizz.

    This article is about as useful as a two legged horse.

    September 9, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Serinanth

      I mix syrup in sodawater every day, you have to pour it down the inside rim of the container and not directly into the soda water. Every once in a while I get a flare up but its usually because I over carbonated the water.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  26. LilCoffinHunter

    I was disappointed that the article didn't have proper instructions, as John mentioned. Also the links are worthless; the link for flavoring sodas to whatever flavor tickles your fancy brings you to a site promoting marijuana soda. WTF? the Sisterhand Syrups link is actually to a Fulton Stall Market, but there is no website link for Sisterhand Syrups! again, WTF?

    September 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  27. MandoZink

    I wonder if you can use stevia, or Truvia, instead of sugar.

    September 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Sure, why couldn't you???

      September 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Andrea

      I flavor plain Club Soda with Stevia all the time, and sometimes even add a splash of Vanilla or a twist of lemon or lime. I'm on a low-carb diet so this is a nice change from drinking plain water. The sweetness is subtle with just one dropper-full of Stevia, but still nice.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • piratejoe

      I use all different kinds of sweeteners for different drinks. Date sugar is heavy and thick tasting, and it goes well with raspberry soda or sasaparilla. Some honeys work well with ginger, and different sugars, turbinado, brown, raw, or white each add their own flavors to sodas. The only thing I do differently is that I don't use carbonated water, I use champagne yeast for carbonation.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  28. Chris

    Thanks for the article; I may try this at home. Of course organic is better (= less poison, more intelligent farming practices), sugar is sugar.

    September 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Chris

      That came out all wrong. What I meant is, yes, organic doesn't contain the poisons, but sugar is still sugar.

      September 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
      • Johnny Jungle

        Keep drinking the Cool Aid Chris. Let me know if you ever have any inorganic sugar to try.

        September 9, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Ann

      Sugar is not Sugar anymore! Sugar is Genetically Modified, a GMO. Most sugar is made from a combination of GM sugar beets and cane sugar.

      Buy Organic sugar or pure cane sugar and keep your body clean of these toxins.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
      • kasey

        The sugar I buy is strictly from cane. You just have to watch out and read the labels.

        September 9, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
      • Soylent

        Kindly explain to me– using terms from organic chemistry and not weasel words like "poisons"– how one sucrose molecule is different from another one? Until then you make about as much sense as the people peddling homeopathy.

        September 9, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
      • Serinanth

        How does genetic modification turn a food into a toxin? You do realize that by selective breeding we have been genetically modifying food for centuries, corn for instance would not exist as it does today were it not for selective breeding. Genetic modification does the same thing but at a much faster rate. Instead of selectively breeding for several generations to produce a specific trait we just find out what gene causes that trait and turn it on. I do have some reservations about GM crops but for right now I will buy GM foods. They require less pesticides and are less prone to crop failure so less "toxins" put put into the environment to feed and protect the crop.

        September 9, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
      • kasey

        Oh, and BTW, you can't genetically modify sugar. It's a chemical compound, C12H22O11, not a biological one. You can genetically engineer the cane plant to grow taller or produce more sap or whatever, but you cannot modify sugar (sucrose, in this instance).

        September 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
      • kasey

        Thank you, Soylent and Serinanth. Geez, it would be nice if the people jumping on the organic bandwagon would at least know what they're talking about before they try to spread doom to everyone else.

        September 9, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
      • Right

        And don't forget to make sure your diet is gluten free Ann, or you'll die.

        September 9, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
      • HILLKING812


        September 10, 2011 at 2:34 am |
      • Ann

        Sugar beets have been genetically engineered (in a lab, not in nature) for resistance to glyphosate, an herbicide marketed as Roundup by the company Monsanto. Monstanto does this purely for profit so they can sell farmers more of their toxic Roundup. Monstanto is the company that brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s, Bovine Growth Hormone, among other goodies. Why would you trust them? They don’t care about human health. With GMO’s comes more toxins on our food and in our soil. Genetically engineered plants have had their genes spliced and genes from totally different species put into their DNA. This does not happen naturally in nature, our eco system is being disrupted and there have been no long term studies as to the effect that this might have on us as humans or our planet.
        If you think it’s OK that some company that our Government supports makes billons at your and your children’s expense then eat all the GMO sugar you want. You will die young anyway.
        I’ll stick to Organic or Pure Cane Sugar.

        September 11, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  29. John

    This article is totally lame. It contains very little useful information for the DIY soda maker. Organic sugar? WTF is that? The suggested syrup ratios are mostly worthless as it depends on how concentrated the syrups are and they vary substantially from different sources. Flavoring extracts are not even mentioned, yet they are much more economical to use.and readily available.

    September 9, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  30. hehe101

    This is the the food blog.

    September 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  31. Adam

    How is this news?

    September 9, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • JT

      "5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe." did you not read that?

      September 9, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • JeffinIL

      How is it that people come to the Food and Entertainment sections of the CNN site and expect Pulitzer Prize-winning exposés?

      September 9, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
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