If you like fizzy sodas but you don't like (or can't have) the ingredients in the commercial products, there's a new way to make your own fizzy drinks at home. The PureFizz Soda Maker ($79.99) is a streamlined product that's little more than a bottle that can withstand the pressure of adding carbonation to liquid and has a way to inject the carbonation. But really, that's all you need.
Similar to a soda siphon, but without the jet stream pressurized release of the liquid, you use small CO2 cartridges to add carbonation to the liquid of your choice. Then, unlike a soda siphon, you release the excess pressure, open the cap, and pour.
Woah, that's easy. And fizzy.
A second cap, without the carbonation-injection mechanism, is used to cap the bottle if you're not serving it all at once. The only other piece is a funnel that doubles as a measuring tool to make sure you don't overfill the bottle—some empty space is required for proper carbonation.
I'm not a huge fan of commercial soda (or pop, depending on where you live) because they're usually too sweet for me. But I do enjoy the occasional fizzy drink, so it's nice to be able to make one—in any flavor—whenever I want it. You can use this soda maker to carbonate anything you can drink—water, wine, juice, just about anything you can think of. Fizzy iced tea is interesting, and fizzy lemonade is pretty refreshing. For fans of commercial sodas, you can buy syrups and make whatever flavors you like. You can also add pieces of fruit to the carbonated liquid to add flavor to the liquid and make the fruit pieces a little fizzy. Or, if you want to go all molecular-gastronomy, you can use this to carbonate the fruit.
Even though the instructions don't mention it, you can also use this to infuse flavors into vodka. I've done it with a regular soda siphon, but this is less messy—no risk of spewing vodka onto the kitchen ceiling.
Like any bottled carbonated beverage, the fizz starts leaving the bottle after it's opened, so you won't be able to store leftovers for a long time, but you can't do that with commercial soda, either.
What I really liked about this soda maker is that it's a portable, self-contained device that doesn't take a whole lot of space. And I got a good amount of carbonation in everything I've tried so far.
The unit is a little spendy upfront, but all the carbonation systems are. If you make a lot of soda, you can buy the CO2 cartridges online in bulk for good prices, and since they're made from steel, they're completely recyclable.
About the author: Resident yeast whisperer and bread baking columnist Donna Currie also has a serious gadget habit. When her father-in-law heard about this column, he upgraded the nickname for her kitchen from "gadget world" to "gadget heaven." You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.
Disclaimer: Testing samples were provided to Serious Eats.