The spicy, sassafras-y brew you knew as a kid, now all grown up.
By Dan Zuccarello | June 22, 2011
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I wonder if this would work without the star anise, or if its flavor is pronounced or merely a nuance. I am definitely *not* a fan of anise or any other licorice flavoring. Any input?
You could make this without the star anise. Most of the ingredients are optional, it is just a matter of what combination of sarsaparilla root, sassafras root, and other herbs create the root beer flavor you want. Though personally I like the flavor the star anise adds it isn’t necessary by any means.
What about using dark brown sugar? Or would that impart too much of a molasses flavor? Or any ideas on how to make it darker in color?
It would most likely impart a strong molasses flavor.
I’m an American living in the UK. I would love to make this recipe with my kids… now just to see where we can get these ingredients. I think the sassafras root bark and sarsaparilla root will be the most difficult.
so can there be a way that it brews in 3 days??
Has anyone tried this recipe with forced carbonation instead of the yeast?
Would not think in the Uk you would not have much trouble finding sassafras. Sassafras tea. May have to check specialty stores.
I haven’t made this yet but I want too. Ideally I’d like to make this for my kids but I’m worried about “slightly alcoholic.” Any suggestions on how Not to have this happen?
ematia4, the amount of alcohol should be very minimal – likely an amount that would not harm your children. Young children (those under 8 years old) should not be having pop so its not a big problem there, and anyone older can handle a single pop. Just don’t let them have 3-4 and you will be fine. They would need to have between 5-10 of these to have a weak to normal beer equivalent (3% to 5% beer).
The limited alcohol from this will be better than the artificial chemicals and caramel color found in the other sodas. If you have ever heard of the sassafrass issue with carcinogens, caramel color has health issues at similar doses. Both need you to drink a LOT of it to have issues, but again, the precaution would be greater for those in my opinion than the alcohol if the kids are over 8ish years old.
Just compare what chemicals have been around for hundreds of years, and which are new. Our bodies can handle alcohol, which can be found even if natural fruit picked from a tree. The very small percent should not be a problem. You are, however, the mother – so you know what is best and this is by ALL means a personal decision. Just giving you all the information for you to make an informed decision.
For alternatives, using a CO2 tank or those carbonating machines available at Bed Bath and Beyond could carbonate it for you (the latter being simple!). This would be one way to carbonate without yeast if you choose to do so
I made this recipe courtesy of the DIY cookbook. Here is my take:
–While I enjoyed the original recipe I tasted too much star anise and not enough of the actual roots. In my second batch I reduced the star anise to one pod and increase the sassafras and sarsaparilla by 10%. While I am still waiting for it to go through the refrigeration phase the current product is a marked improvement.
–Fermentation at “room temperature” can be a bit tricky to monitor given that RT varies from residence to residence. I used a previous commentor’s idea of using a 12 oz. plastic soda bottle as one of the bottling devices. I placed the bottles in an east-facing room with an open heat vent so it averaged around 70 degrees for 48 hours (I’m in Maryland, for perspective). I found it needed an extra 18 hours before moving to the fridge. Using a plastic soda bottle made the process fairly fool-proof.
Thank you for this recipe and contribution to DIYers like me!
For those concerned about alcohol content, I’ve calculated it for you: 0.282% This assumes a “typical” level of carbonation from fermenting 1 oz of sugar per gallon of liquid, pretty standard in the home brew world. Much more carbonated than that and it would be obviously over-carbonated (very foamy, perhaps foaming out of the bottles when opened).
Thanks for this recipe. This is a simple and convenient way to carbonate soda right in the bottles – for some reason it hadn’t occurred to me to use the fridge to arrest fermentation!
I could only find powdered sassafras root. How much and would I used it in this recipe? Thanks.
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