Ribena was something I craved as a kid, but was rarely allowed. I think the twin combination of being more pricey than your average juice and also being famed for its epic sugar allowance, put it off my mum’s shopping list. Like anything you’re not allowed as a child, it took on an almost mystical symbolism and I prized those rare occasions when at a pal’s house or at my Gran’s, I got an ice cold glass of the good stuff or when once in a blue moon, Ribena hit buy one get one free territory.
These days I am free to buy cartons or concentrate of Ribena pretty much at will. Still pricey, but not anywhere near as expensive as most of the other much more boring stuff adulthood forces me to buy, it’s a luxury I can choose to afford. I don’t do it that much though. Maybe something about tastes changing as you grow older or the fact that it possesses pretty much zero refreshment value. It doesn’t stand up compared with similarly priced fresh juice and smoothie varieties.
However, it seems to me that possessed as it is of strong sugar value (despite the bottle’s claims of the vast majority of this being entirely natural) and the distinctive berry flavour Ribena squash could be an ideal candidate as a SodaStream syrup. It’s also handy that my bottle of cordial has been reduced to £2 which gives me the chance and keep things traditional, buying in alignment with my mum’s eighties spending policies.
Once again, the key to the making of this unofficial flavour is to make up a batch of fizzy water, then pour some away to allow you to then put in a fair amount of concentrate. Your average cordial just does not have the potency of an official SodaStream syrup.
Ribena syrup quite often produces a slightly frothy drink, which is something I generally view as a bonus. In this instance, the combination of this froth potential with carbonated water produces an impressive soda fountain and my 4th official SodaStream explosion. Hoorah.
Having cleaned up and chilled the drink to perfection I am ready to sample the creation: Highly fizzy, impressive sugar notes and I’ve dosed it enough for the strident blackcurrant flavour to come through. It’s definitely Ribena, but Ribena with fizz.
I’m kind of divided whether this is a good result or not. On the one hand it works. It seems like a real fizzy drink – an extremely toxic one from the import drinks shelf of my local newsagents next to Mountain Dew and Rubicon.
I down 2 glasses while eating a kids tea (chicken nuggets, potato waffles and spaghetti hoops), which seemed the only fair test, and the drink refreshes and overpowers in the way Ribena always should. My teeth are coated with sugar and my temples get hit with a citrus spike. I pour another glass and I’m still thirsty, which once again checks out with my memory of Ribena.
On the other hand, I’m not sure whether the presence of fizz adds anything. I’m thinking that Ribena might be better without gas. Like maybe I’ve added sugar to an iced bun.
It seems like I will need to make further batches and vary the dosage. This drink has potential, but I’m just not sure. My homework for the weekend is to track down a bottle of fizzy Ribena from the shops and see whether a) I can match the dosage and b) more importantly, whether I prefer my version. Sorry to cop out, but the jury is out.