Monday, July 25, 2011

Down Home Root Beer

The herbs for this wonderful homemade version of root beer can be sourced online or at a well-stocked health foods store - they are well worth seeking out! I have added links to the ingredients so that you can see what each herb looks like. I found all the herbs at a local health food store and they were relatively inexpensive - I have listed the details at the end of this recipe.

Special Tools
SodaStream Jet - a home machine that carbonates water on-demand
French press coffee maker

Root Beer Concentrate
4 cups fresh water
1/2 ounce sassafras root bark
1/2 ounce birch root bark
1/2 ounce sarsaparilla root bark
1/4 ounce licorice root
1/4 ounce dried ginger root
2 vanilla beans, sliced open
24 ounces organic light brown sugar

  1. Pour fresh water into a medium-sized stainless-steel saucepan; place over medium heat.
  2. Using a kitchen scale set to "ounces", carefully measure each herb, adding measured quantity to saucepan as you go.
  3. Slice open vanilla beans; add to saucepan; stir to combine all herbs.
  4. Place lid on saucepan and bring mixture to a boil; turn off heat, place lid on saucepan and set aside to steep for 1 hour.
  5. Return saucepan to medium heat; bring mixture to a boil; turn off heat, place lid on saucepan and set aside for another hour.
  6. Pour entire contents of saucepan into a 6-cup french press coffee maker; strain out solids by pressing down on coffee maker sieve; pour liquid from french press into clean medium-sized stainless-steel saucepan; discard solids.
  7. Place saucepan over medium heat; add 24 ounces light brown sugar; stir to dissolve; bring mixture to a boil; boil for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove pan from heat; cool concentrate in pan or pour off into a sterile glass storage jar; refrigerate until cold.

To make root beer on-demand: Mix 1/4 cup root beer concentrate with 1 cup carbonated water; add ice; stir and enjoy! Remember, you can only carbonate WATER - do not attempt to carbonate water mixed with the concentrate - it will damage your carbonator.

Concentrate Yield: about 7 cups
Root Beer Yield: about 35 cups (280 ounces, or about 20 cans of 12 ounce soda, or just over 2 gallons)

COST ANALYSIS: about $9.00 for 2 gallons of made root beer.

0.5 ounce Sassafras Root: $1.47
0.5 ounce Birch Root: $0.515
0.5 ounce Sarsaparilla Root: $1.395
0.25 ounce Licorice Root: $0.28
0.25 ounce Dried Ginger Root: $0.4875
2 beans vanilla: $1.20
24 ounces light brown sugar: $3.65

Considering the only gluten-free root beer my kids can drink is by Virgil's and it sells for around $6.80 for 48 ounces (four 12 ounce bottles), and this recipe yields 280 ounces for $9.00, by making it myself I will save around $30.00!

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