Make Your Own Herbal Soda

Try these three different recipes to make your own herbal soda, or start experimenting to make your own unique flavor combinations.

| June/July 2012

  • In the late 1800s, druggists frequently served up root beer for overall well-being, ginger ale for nausea and Coca-Cola for headaches and hangovers.
    Photo by matka_Wariatka

With soft drinks as much a part of the junk-food pantheon as burgers and fries, it’s hard to imagine that physicians once promoted the drinks as cures for all sorts of ailments. In the late 1800s, druggists frequently served up root beer for overall well-being, ginger ale for nausea and Coca-Cola for headaches and hangovers.

3 Herbal Soda Recipes

Root Beer Recipe
Spruce Beer Recipe
Ginger Beer Recipe

Of course, the sodas of yesteryear were entirely different creatures from the ones we find on our supermarket shelves today. They were made from natural ingredients—the roots, leaves, flowers and barks of plants credited with health benefits. But pharmacists would not leave well enough alone. Many had received training as chemists, and they couldn’t resist the urge to experiment with different chemical combinations to produce artificial colorings and flavorings. By the early 1900s, synthesized flavorings were taking over the soda world.

Fortunately, the art of making your own soda from plants was not completely lost. For centuries, homemakers had been stirring up batches of “small beers”—low-alcohol, bubbly drinks—right alongside homebrewed beer. Small beers, such as root beer and ginger ale, allowed children and workers to enjoy the refreshing foaminess of beer without the drunkenness. During Prohibition, when the only way to acquire beer was to make it yourself, the art of small beers also went through a revival and, in some corners of the country, it stuck.

How to Make Homemade Pop

You can rekindle this tradition in your own kitchen. Here is a list of the equipment you will need to get started:

• Large soup or spaghetti pot
• Funnel
• Plastic soda bottles with screw-on caps and/or bail-top beer bottles, sterilized
• Sugar
• Herbs
• Yeast



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