There’s nothing more beautiful than home brewed sarsaparilla… truly. The best part was that this was so incredibly easy, especially since I already had an active ginger bug to use. This specific batch was made using sassafras root “flavoring”, but next time I will be using only sarsaparilla root in addition to the other ingredients so that is the recipe I will post here.
Sassafras root and bark have been banned for consumption in the U.S.A. since the 1960’s when it was found to have carcinogens present in the oils of the root and bark. Carcinogens = cancer. Sure, it is a small amount of risk, but why bother when sarsaparilla root is just as flavorful? In any case, sassafras is now only sold as a topical bark and it is difficult enough to find a sassafras “flavoring” not to mention safe extract. So this recipe will only include the easy to find ingredients and thus, will exclude sassafras completely.
Bring the following ingredients to a boil in a very large pot:
* 1 1/2 gallons of water
* 1/4 cup sarsaparilla root bark
* 1/8 cup wintergreen leaf
* 1 Tbsp. licorice root
* 1 Tbsp. ginger root
* 1 Tbsp. wild cherry tree bark
* 1 Tbsp. dandelion root
* 1 Tbsp. hops flowers
* 1/2 Tbsp. birch bark
* 1 tsp. juniper berries
* 1/2 crushed cinnamon stick
* optional: 1/4 of an orange peel
Bring the water, herbs, barks, and roots to a rolling boil and then reduce heat until the mixture is at a steady simmer. Simmer the mixture for 20-30 minutes until the liquid is dark. Take a sip of the liquid to make sure the taste is strong enough (to your liking). Remove from heat and add to dissolve:
* 2 cups rapadura (or 2 cups unrefined sugar with 3 tablespoons molasses)
At this point you may strain and transfer the mixture to a large glass or ceramic jar. Once the mixture is cool to the touch, add:
* 4 Tbsp. vanilla extract
* 2 cups strained ginger bug liquid (or water kefir culture) (or fresh whey)
Let the inoculated (creepy word huh?!) brew sit at room temperature –unsealed– for 24 hours. If you used a ginger bug, you can even bottle immediately to retain some sweetness.
Now bottle that mad brown brew! Let your sarsaparilla sit at room temperature –bottled in sealable brewing bottles– for 48 hours. Then refrigerate and enjoy!