I had been pretty disappointed in my earlier attempts at homemade probiotic root beer. I bought all these individual ingredients to make it from scratch, only to realize it would’ve been much easier to just buy natural root beer extract (or even a root beer blend).
But then I started adding “Ginger Bug” to the second ferment of this “root beer”. I discovered this made a pretty authentic, healthy substitute for the typical root beer soda. And now that I have the root beer ingredients on hand, I can make many batches of this extract, for considerably less cost than buying the store-bought extract. And–the blend can be customized to individual tastes.
I finally have a great root beer soda recipe, even though it took awhile. First off, some folks said, “boil the bark for for a long time”, or “pour more boiling water on the strained bark, to extract more flavor and make a second batch.
Nope–that did not work out well. I discovered that the best flavor comes from simmering the first four ingredients for twenty minutes only. I suspect that other less-desirable elements start coming out when it’s simmered for longer. Personal opinion- just sayin’.
This recipe makes 2-3 cups, enough for two or three batches of 32-oz. brew. The extra can be stored in refrigerator for several months.
- 2 TBS. sarsaparilla root
- Optional: 1 TBS. sassafras bark
- 1/4 tsp. wintergreen leaf
- 1 tsp. licorice root
- 3 c. boiling water (filtered)
- Optional: 1/4 tsp. each coriander, anise seed, clove
- 1/4 c. + 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. molasses
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 TBS. lime juice
- 1/3 c. “ginger bug” per bottle of second ferment
- 1 c. finished root beer extract
- Scant 3 c. first-ferment kombucha, ready for second ferment
Add to a small pot: > 2 TBS. sarsaparilla root > 1 TBS. sassafras bark> 1/4 tsp. wintergreen leaf > 1 tsp. licorice root > 3 c. boiling water (filtered)
Bring mixture back to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into a bowl or other container.
After straining the above mix, caramelize sugar. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the sugar on medium-high heat just until all sugar has dissolved and is golden. Use: > 1/4 c. sugar
After the sugar has caramelized, add more sugar, stirring to dissolve. Use: > 1/4 c. sugar
To the pan of sugars, slowly add back some of the strained liquid. Stir until smooth, reheating to dissolve sugar, if necessary.
Add the strained liquid mixed with the caramelized sugar to a quart jar. Also add: > 1 tsp. molasses > 1 tsp. vanilla extract > 1/2 TBS. lime juice
Shake or stir well until dissolved. This “Root Beer Extract” will make two or three 32-oz. bottles of finished root beer “soda”.
For the second ferment “soda”, use one 32-oz. bottle. Add: > 1/3 c. “Ginger Bug” (see recipe) > 1 c. Root Beer Extract > scant 3 c. first-ferment kombucha (or kefir)
Leave the second-ferment bottle out for a day or two, until well-carbonated, then refrigerate. Refrigerated, it keeps up to a month.