On a hot summer day, what cools a kid down better than a cold soda? A homemade cold soda, that's what.
Sodas taste good, which is why we have vending machines all over the place and, in many homes, a good supply of sodas in the refrigerator. But moms and dads are right to worry about the amount of sugar, caffeine and other substances in those drinks.
There's a quick way to make homemade soda that is just as refreshing and a lot more fun. It's even good for you.
One of my favorite cooking-with-kids books is Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up (Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson, Tricycle Press, 1994, $19.95), because of its delightfully fanciful concoctions as well as its clear-as-a-bell instructions. Each recipe has enough illustrations that even preschoolers can do most of the work with minimal adult supervision.
Pretend Soup's Homemade Lemon-Lime Soda Pop is a perfect example, and it offers an ideal alternative to commercial soda. With only a few ingredients -- fresh lemons and limes, thawed fruit juice concentrate, club soda and ice cubes -- kids can whip up a cold refreshing soda in their own favorite flavor.
Younger children will need an adult to cut the lemon and lime first. But even preschoolers can squeeze them and learn to measure the correct amount.
To add an extra challenge for older kids, pose a math problem: There are 16 tablespoons in one cup. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fruit juice concentrate. How many tablespoons is that? If they like this one, pose another: There are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon. If you've lost your tablespoon measure but still have a teaspoon, how many teaspoons of lemon juice, lime juice and fruit concentrate would you need for this recipe? A little brainwork makes the soda taste even better and reminds kids that math class does produce some useful knowledge.
The recipe calls for apple-juice concentrate as the sweetener, but any fruit-juice concentrate will do and it's fun to experiment. I used a five-fruit juice that worked beautifully, producing an appealing raspberry-colored soda that prompted a clamor for more.
Caution: Don't try this recipe unless you have enough lemons, limes and club soda to get you through a long, hot afternoon. Otherwise, you'll likely find yourself making an extra trip to the store.
Homemade Lemon-Lime Soda Pop
Makes 1 serving
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (see note)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple (or other) juice concentrate, thawed
3 ice cubes
1 cup soda water
Squeeze juice from a lemon and measure 2 tablespoons into a glass. Squeeze juice from a lime and add 1 tablespoon to the glass. Add everything else and stir. Drink with a straw or slurp from a spoon.
Note: If you don't like citrus pulp, strain the lemon and lime juice before adding them to the glass.