I enjoy making soda at home, and it is always fun to step away from "cola" and try something new.
I thought I would combine the liquid from the oranges I was carbonating with a syrup to make a new soda. I imagined that honey would be an interesting sweetener to use, and my wife and I always have a lot of honey on hand.
The full process took a few hours, but most of that was waiting for the syrup to cool, and the carbonated water to chill. The time spent "cooking" was about 20 minutes- five minutes peeling an orange and preparing the ingredients, 10 minutes stirring, and five minutes preparing the drinks.
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Step 1: Gather the Ingredients
I decided to make a very simple recipe for the syrup- one to one to one.
- One Tangelo
- One cup honey
- One cup water
I think the syrup would have been a lot sweeter had I used more honey- a 2-1 ratio of honey to water might be better. The amount of orange seemed about right; not too much nor too little.
I have made simple syrups with sugar before, but never with honey. There are only slight differences in the process, namely that measuring honey is harder than sugar.
Step 2: Honey Is Harder to Get Into the Pot
Honey is pretty sticky, and a whole cup of honey is a whole lot of sticky. In order to make the honey pour faster, (and to clean out the containers more completely) I put them in the microwave to warm the honey. Since I was going to heat it on the stove anyway, it might even save some time.
It doesn't take long for honey to get quite hot- 30 seconds was enough to turn the honey into a much less viscous liquid and it became almost as easy to pour as water. The thin film of honey left on the sides of the jar gets very hot though- hot enough to turn the plastic honey bear into a twisted mutant. Wear gloves or use an oven mitt when you pick up the jars.
I saved the glass jar for later.
Step 3: Add Oranges and Heat
I began to heat the honey and water, stirring occasionally so that they would mix into a syrup.
I added the orange wedges by the expedient method of just dumping them in. Don't do that- the honey syrup is liquid enough that it will splash, and it is still amazingly sticky. It makes a mess.
How long should it heat? And how hot should it get? I don't really know. I think that it really doesn't take long- just until the honey and water are completely mixed and the honey is dissolved in the water. I think it takes less time than dissolving granular sugar. I took 10 minutes, and that was likely more than enough time, especially since the honey had been heated in the microwave. Once the honey and water are completely mixed, you are finished.
I tried to keep my mixture just under a simmer, but I didn't try very hard. Some people say that the flavor of honey is ruined by heat, so try to keep it from boiling. You also don't want a lot of the water to evaporate off, since you want the syrup to be pourable.
Step 4: Decant Into Storage Bottle
What better to use to store my honey syrup in than the bottle the honey came it? A funnel should make it simple to fill the bottle. Easy as pie, right?
I made two obvious, easily avoidable mistakes here, which is a) to calculate your volume of both liquid AND storage container before you pour and b) pour slowly.
I was so concerned with not spilling the syrup when I poured it into the funnel that I didn't pay attention to how much I was pouring. It filled the bottle quickly, and the funnel still had more waiting to go in, so it made a mess. I was glad I used a small plate so it contained the overflow.
I'd also intended on putting the Orange slices in the bottle to keep seasoning it, but it was too full for that. All of the orange slices and the remaining syrup went into another glass storage container.
Step 5: More Than Enough for One Day
I would estimate that this makes at least 10 servings, assuming that you use between 1 and 2 ounces (30 to 60 milliliters) per glass of soda that you make. Typically you would use something like a 10-1 ratio of syrup to carbonated water, but since this is a 1-1 syrup rather than a 2-1, it may need more syrup to achieve the desired sweetness.
Step 6: Soda Time!
I mixed about three spoonfuls of syrup into each glass of carbonated water. I tossed in a few of the sweetened oranges as well.
The soda is very mild flavored, with definite notes of orange. The honey taste is more pronounced the more you drink, and takes a moment or two to notice. (I guess the flavor really does mellow when you cook it.) Despite being served with cold water, the drink has a warming feel to it because of the honey. I'll probably use more than the recommended serving of syrup because I like my sodas quite sweet.
Enjoy your soda!