Herbal Soda: Making Root Beer

Rekindle the art of making pop from plants by making root beer at home.

| June/July 2012

Root beer extracts, usually in an amount suitable for five gallons of beverage, are available from herb and spice purveyors. These yield a drink that’s very close in flavor to commercial root beers. Making your own infu­sions, however, allows for experimentation and a distinctive “house” brew. Ours is less sweet than most. MAKES ABOUT 1 GALLON OF ROOT BEER

• 5 quarts water
• 1/4 ounce hops
• 1/2 ounce dried burdock root
• 1/2 ounce dried yellow dock root
• 1/2 ounce dried sarsaparilla root
• 1/2 ounce dried sassafras root
• 1/2 ounce dried spikenard root
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon granulated yeast

1. Simmer herbs in water for 30 min­utes. Add sugar, stir to dissolve and strain into a crock. Cool to lukewarm, add yeast and stir well. Cover crock and leave to ferment for about an hour.

2. Funnel into sterilized bot­tles (old beer or soft drink bottles will do), and cap tightly. Metal caps, caps applied with a crimping tool or wire-­hinged caps are best. If you cork your bot­tles, tie or wire the corks down firmly and store bottles on their side to encourage sealing. Use only sturdy, returnable-type beer bottles or champagne bottles, as those with twist-­top caps are not strong enough.

Kathryn Kingsbury is a freelance writer who enjoys turning her kitchen into a culinary chemistry lab. 

Click here for the main article, Fresh Clips: Make Your Own Herbal Soda.

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