Tag Archives: sarsaparilla

More Root Beer: an improvement on a theme.

19 Jul

A while ago, I posted a recipe for root beer that contains licorice and sassafras.  This one is decent and nice if you want to keep your ingredients to a minimum, but I was a little unhappy with the licorice overpowering the brew.  Here is my new improved recipe, which calls on a third herb:  sarsaparilla.

Simmer for 20 minutes:

4 c of water

2T dried sassafras root

1t dried licorice root 

2 t dried sarsaparilla root

Let this mixture steep and cool off for about 20 minutes more, then strain it into a 2 quart or slightly larger jar.  Add:

1/3 c evaporated cane syrup (sucanot or rapadura) 

1/3 c maple syrup

4 more cups water

Test the temp.  You should be able to touch the water comfortably– if it’s too hot you will kill your tibicos!  Traditionally they talk about the brew being blood warm or milk-warm.  Add:

1/2 c water kefir grains

Cover your jar with a towel to allow air to come in and flies to stay out.  Leave it out of the way for 2 days, stirring occasionally if you remember.  After two days, taste the brew to make sure it’s fermented enough to your liking.  If you want, leave it another day.  When it tastes ready, bottle it.  Leave the sealed bottles out at room temperature for a day or so, then drink or store in the fridge.  Don’t leave them at room temp too long or they will explode with fizz when you open them!



Root Beer with Moxie: recipe updated on 6/9/12

14 May

Happy post-Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  One of  my most poignant memories of Mother’s Day is the year when my father came home from a mysterious morning mission with a new puppy.  He climbed up the stairs, puppy in arms, and my mom woke up to a soft, slobbery pink tongue on her cheek.  This was a dog with a lot of spunk right from the get-go, so we named her Moxie.

Moxie is also a soda that originates from Maine– I don’t know of anywhere beyond New England where you can find it.

Moxie Soda gets it’s characteristic flavoring from gentian root.

In my quest to find awesome combinations of root beer, I decided to experiment with gentian root, the primary flavor of Moxie.  The following recipe creates a satisfyingly bittersweet/sour brew


4 c water

1 tsp gentian root

1 tsp licorice root

1 tsp sarsaparilla root 

2 T sassafras root

The roots in water, ready to be simmered

in a medium saucepan.  Simmer the combination for 20 minutes, and then allow it to steep for another half hour.  Strain the roots out and pour the resulting tea into a 2 quart sized jar.  Add:

1/3 c maple syrup

1/3 c sucanot (evaporated cane syrup).

4 c water at room temperature.  

Make sure that the resulting blend is cool enough that you can touch it comfortably, ala “blood warm.” so that you don’t kill your culture.  When it is cool enough, add:

1/2 c water kefir grains.

Stir, and cover with a cloth so that the mixture can breathe, but flies can’t get in.  Allow to sit for 2 days, stirring a couple times a day if you remember.  Before this brew is fully fermented, it is almost repulsively bitter, but I find it delicious when finished.  My boyfriend thinks it is still too bitter now.  If this is the case for you, play with reducing the amount of gentian root and increasing the amount of licorice for sweetness or dandelion for a more neutral taste.   After two days, bottle the mixture and let it build up pressure in the bottles for another day.  Don’t let it build up too much fizz, or you will lose half your drink when you open the bottles!  Then, store in the fridge until you are ready to drink.

Right after bottling: I poured the brew into two bottles and reserved a little to consume right away. The bottles sat out another day to build up more bubbles.

About Gentian Root (Gentiana lutea):

The following information is sourced from the New Holisitic Herbal by David Hoffman, which was recommended to me by the girl at Flower Power, where I bought my gentian root and my sarsaparilla.

Gentian Root,is a bitter which, like all bitters, stimulates the appetite and digestion via a stimulation of digestive juices, including saliva (sialagogue), gastric juices, and bile (cholagogue).  It is helpful for balancing a sluggish digestive system and lack of appetite.  Sluggish digestion symptoms that gentian is useful for include dyspepsia and flatulence.

Gentian flower.

About Sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis):  

Sarsaparilla is often used as a general tonic to improve overall function in the body.  It is indicated for skin irritation, particularly psoriasis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis.

Sarsaparilla, image borrowed from foundinthefells.com

Old Ways Herbal: Juliette Abigail Carr, RH (AHG)

Women & Children's Herbal Clinic, Vermont Herb School, & Ramblings on Family Herbal Wisdom


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