PROBIOTIC ROOT BEER
- 1/2 cup Sassafras Root Bark
- 3 tablespoons sarsaparilla root
- 1 cup unrefined organic cane sugar like rapadura
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 3 teaspoons of natural vanilla extract
- 3 quarts filtered water + 1 cup
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 cup homemade ginger bug
Makes approximately 4 quarts
*please note root beer is known for people using the “roots” of their neighborhood or their field. So this is a fabulous base for your herbs like licorice, burdock, valerian root etc.
Add bark and root, masala to water. Let simmer for 20 minutes. While still warm add the sugar and molasses. As cool, add vanilla, molasses, lime and ginger bug. Strain into pint soda bottles fully to shoulder of bottle. Let sit 2 days at 70-80 degrees.
Herbs for Homemade Root Beer
Wintergreen leaf, though almost always an ingredient in most traditional root beer recipes, replaced sassafras as the prominent flavor in root beer during the 1960s when a study conducted on lab animals implicated safrole, a naturally occurring polyphenol, in liver cancer. Of course, the lab rats were fed massive quantities of safrole – the human equivalent of consuming about 32 twelve-ounce bottles of root beer a day. After the study was released, the FDA required commercial soft drink makers to remove sassafras from their brews. Of course, cinnamon, nutmeg and basil also contain safrole but this seemed to escape the attention of the FDA.
Interestingly, while massive quantities of safrole caused liver cancer in lab animals, it seems that small doses may actually play a protective role for humans. Some studies indicate that safrole may actually stimulate the death of cancer cells, particularly oral cancers though it may also do so in lung and prostrate cancers.
Wintergreen, already an ingredient in root beer, offered a flavor profile strikingly similar to that of sassafras, and made a ready replacement. Most root beers made today contain neither sassafras nor wintergreen and are instead made with artificial flavors. Even wintergreen extract, the preferred flavoring for many home brewers, is difficult to attain and typically is made with propylene glycol – a petrochemical.
As with all herbs, it is important to consult with a doctor, health care practitioner or herbalist before consuming any herb, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or have a medical condition. I personally stick with homemade ginger ale or homemade Dr. Pepper when pregnant.