I’ve always enjoyed the taste of homemade root beer…the perfect pick-me-up after a hot summer day. The way it tastes on your tongue and it pops in your mouth is soothing and refreshing.
Now for the longest time my husband and I used “Root Beer Flavoring” when making this beverage which is easy enough to find at just about any grocery store. This artificial flavoring is what both my husband and I grew up on when it came to homemade root beer, and is probably what you grew up on also.
Then I discovered the real thing–sassafras root–the original flavor of root beer. And I’m tellin’ ya, you’ve got to try it.
But first, a story from my husband’s family history:
“There were three events that made me remember the summer (of 1919) so well…Mother made root beer for everyone this summer, adding a little hops as everyone did to improve the taste. One batch seemed especially good to one of the men, so he kept asking Mom for more. Mother, never dreaming that it could make him drunk, kept giving him more when he asked. To Mother’s embarrassment the guy was soon laid out. She never again added hops to our root beer!”
Now that’s what I call root beer!
Screwed Up Texan Root Beer
You will need to purchase Sassafras root bark. I’d tell you where I purchased mine, but you should know it is regulated by the FDA. You may be able to purchase yours from a health food store, although it may need to be special ordered. Those who are familiar with the plant can collect the root. Please, do not collect from the wild unless you know what plant you are collecting as some plants are highly toxic even in very small quantities. Now that I’ve covered my butt…
Make a tea using 6 cups of water and 1/8-1/4 cup of chopped, dried sassafras root bark, more or less to taste. Strain if necessary. While piping hot, add 1 cup of sugar (or other sweetener) and stir to dissolve. Add enough HOT water to make 2 quarts and pour mixture into a sturdy metal pot. Add a little dry ice to the hot sassafras tea to create carbonation. This is the part my kids love the most–watching the “fog” bubble up off the pan. When all the dry ice is melted, you can store covered in a pitcher in the refrigerator or drink at once.
Very delicious and hits the spot! Exactly what I’ll need wrangling three kids at home this week since my oldest has no school over Swine Flu concerns. Hops anyone?