As a child I loved grape soda! As an adult, not so much – most of the commercial brands are just too artificial for me now; they just don’t taste right. So obviously, I need to make my own homemade grape soda!
Before beginning, check out our previous post to learn the basic techniques of making any kind of soda: How To Make Homemade Soda.
If you use a good quality grape juice, then this recipe will take you less than 10 minutes to make, with no cooking or chopping–it’s a great project for the kids! At the end of the post I’ll also include directions on how to use fresh grapes rather than grape juice. Let’s get started!
- 8 cups Concord grape juice
- 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup water
- 12 – 14 T sugar (depending on how sweet you want your soda)
- Pinch of salt
- 1/8 t wine or champagne yeast
Try to find a juice that is pure Concord juice (not a “juice blend”), and one that has no additives like sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate–these are chemical preservatives that will kill your yeast.
The first step will be to sanitize all your bottles and utensils to eliminate the chance of any bacteria spoiling the taste of your soda. You can buy a commercial sanitizer like StarSan, or give everything a 20 minute soak in a solution of water and chlorine bleach (1 tablespoon bleach per 1 gallon of water). After the soak, be sure to thoroughly wash and rinse everything; you don’t want any traces of bleach killing off your yeast! You can use a baby bottle brush to scrub inside the soda bottles. Be sure to allow everything to air dry–you just killed off any germs, why risk putting them back with a slightly dirty towel?
Start by proofing your yeast. Fill a cup with some of the juice, and heat it to about 100 degrees (not too hot or you’ll kill the yeast). Stir in your yeast and let sit for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This gives your yeast the opportunity to wake up and get moving.
Next, boil the cup of water in a saucepan or the microwave.
Remove it from the heat, add the sugar and salt, and stir it to dissolve.
In a large pot or bowl, combine the remaining juice, sugar/water mixture, and lemon juice. When it has dropped back down to 100 degrees or below, pour in your cup of yeast liquid, and mix everything together very well.
Now it’s time to bottle. You can use a clean 2-liter soda bottle, but we used a pair of these nice glass swing-top bottles. If you use the 2-liter bottle, just fill it full, leaving about 1″ of air at the top to allow room for it to pressurize. Fill the glass bottles the same way, but if you’re using glass then you’ll also want to fill a small 16 ounce water bottle as well to test for carbonation (keep reading).
Let the bottle sit in a dim area (as long as they’re out of the sun, it’s fine) at room temperature. They should carbonate in anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. Just keep giving the plastic bottle a squeeze every now and then (that’s why you used the small bottle in addition to the glass bottles); when it’s rock hard the carbonation process is complete and the bottles are ready to go into the refrigerator. They should keep in your fridge for about as long as juice will stay fresh.
We paid about $3 for the juice, so the total cost for a little over 2 liters of soda was probably about $4. Obviously that’s more expensive than the 99 cent store brand sodas you can buy, but with those you’re also getting high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, chemical preservatives, and who knows what else. I think I’ll stick with my recipe!
I didn’t use fresh grapes in this recipe because of the cost and the selection at my local market. Here in the middle of winter I can only find plain red seedless grapes for about $2 per pound, so the cost for 2-liters of soda would have been close to $10! However, if you can find fresh grapes at a decent price, it’s definitely worth using them.
Start with 4 pounds of fresh grapes, and mash them into chunks. You can use use a blender or food processor for a few seconds, but a potato masher works just as well. Add the lemon juice and the warm sugar/water mixture, and stir everything. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, then puree the mixture in your food processor or blender. Strain everything into a bowl so you have sweetened grape juice with a few solids as possible in it.
Take a cup of the juice and proof your yeast as described above. After it has sat for 5-10 minutes, pour it back into the juice mixture, stir thoroughly, and bottle your soda.
You can use different types of grapes for different flavors–I’ve found that Concord gives the “grapiest” flavor. You could certainly try green grapes (or a mixture) for a lighter flavor. Enjoy!