Recently I brewed my very own, from scratch (whatever that is) all natural root beer.  From actual roots.  True story – there are actually lots of roots in root beer.  Go figure….that fabulous, herby, sweet beverage doesn’t just come from a sugary artificial extract.  This was my second batch – I wasn’t quite happy with the first, so I tweaked it and tried again.  It is actually quite tasty!  And easy to make.  I researched for about a month before ordering the hard-to-find roots online (at Mountain Rose Herbs) and coming up with this recipe.    

ingredients to make homemade rootbeer

  • 1.25 quarts filtered water
  • 1/4 oz sarsaparilla
  • 1/2 oz sassafras*
  • 1/4 oz dandelion root
  • 1/8 oz burdock root
  • 1/8 oz licorice root
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 cups honey
  • 1/8 cup molasses
  • 1 pound white sugar
  • 1/4 tbs pure vanilla extract
  • 5 drops wintergreen essential oil

NOTE – measure the roots and sugar by weight, not volume 
*sassafras was banned by the FDA in 1960 because it’s oil, safrole, was labeled a carcinogen, so root beer today does not contain it.  It is a primary ingredient in old rootbeer recipes.  I decided to use it since it is such a small amount, but please do your own research on the subject.   

 
Add everything except the vanilla and wintergreen to a pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer uncovered for 1.5-2 hours.  Remove from heat and strain out the herbs.  Add vanilla and wintergreen, stir well.  Let cool, and funnel into glass or plastic bottles for storage.  Keep in refrigerator or may also store in freezer.   

concentrated homemade rootbeer syrup ready to be mixed

This makes a concentrated root beer syrup that needs to be mixed with soda water before drinking.  Use 1 part root beer syrup to 4 parts club soda or seltzer water (I like the seltzer water best)   

Tasting Notes: 
I really like this root beer!  It’s a little rootier (is that a word?) than what you think of as root beer and not quite as sweet.  Really refreshing, and I like that it’s all from roots and herbs instead of artificial flavors.  It is lighter in the glass than store-bought root beer, but I’m gonna guess that’s ’cause there’s no artificial color added to it.  This batch is darker than my first batch, though, I think because I boiled it longer.  Next time I think I will try brown sugar instead of white, and I might leave out the wintergreen all together.  Even with only 5 drops, it’s pretty strong, but gives a nice rootbeer flavor.  I might also up the sassafras a little next time to make it even more root-beery.   

my homemade rootbeer all mixed up and ready to enjoy!

Did I mention this whole experiment spawned from me wanting to make root beer soap?  I figured I should know what goes in actual root beer before I try to make a soap that smells like it.  Stay tuned for the soapy version 🙂

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