There are few things in life more nostalgic than cracking open an ice-cold soda pop. Back in the day, soda was a rare treat doled out when parents finally relented to endless begging for a frosty pop. And if we've heard it once, we've heard it a million times: Soda will rot your teeth and your insides. Sadly, yes, most companies slip a ton of nasty hidden ingredients into mass-produced sodas — but if you go old-school and make your own, you can sidestep said nasties.

Creating your own healthier version of soda pop is as easy as creating a flavored syrup at home and pouring some cold seltzer over it in a nice tall glass. Bada bing, bada boom — instant homemade soda.

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How to make homemade soda

One of the great things about making soda in this way is that you can control the intensity of the flavor and the relative sweetness of the resulting beverage. You can experiment with flavors and even use real fruit to make the syrups.

Making syrup for soda is as easy as making a simple syrup (sugar and water) and adding flavoring. To use fresh fruit, choose fruits that are very ripe and juicy and either put them through a juicer or puree them and press through a strainer. If you use canned or bottled juices, look for juices that have very high natural juice content, and a very low sugar content. Now you've gotten the idea, here's the easy way to make homemade soda.

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Basic soda syrup

Makes about 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit juice or concentrated fruit juice (the more concentrated the juice, the more intense the final flavor)

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer until the mixture is reduced by half. (To intensify the flavor, you can add a dash of an appropriately flavored extract.) 
  2. Store the finished syrup in a squeeze bottle in the refrigerator for instant access.
  3. To make homemade soda, simply add syrup to a glass of ice and top off with seltzer water or club soda.

Suggestions for flavors

  • Lemon-lime
  • Mango-papaya
  • Pomegranate
  • Blueberry
  • Currant
  • Strawberry
  • Cantaloupe

Quick tip: The syrups are also tasty drizzled over ice cream or other desserts.

Image: SheKnows

Originally published September 2015. Updated August 2017.