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Friday, September 20, 2013

Healthy Soda Series: Probiotic, Homemade Root Beer

And so we have arrived at Root Beer in my series of probiotic sodas.
As I have mentioned before, I’m not the biggest fan of Root Beer - being European and all ... and that cough syrup thing!
However, I have found out that I just don’t like store bought Root Beer. The home made kind is a whole different ball game!
It’s real. It has depth and body. It has character! The flavors are round and compliment each other - not like cough syrup at all! Even to me!

So, much like the Cola, we will make the root beer syrup first and then we will add the syrup to the second ferment of the water kefir.
And this one does actually get to be as dark a color as the original version. But even so, it does not contain any gluten, as we are not using caramel color!
My starting point was a fabulous recipe by Hank Shaw and I adapted it to suit water kefir fermentation, and our taste buds!

Root Beer Syrup

Put the sassafras and burdock roots, vanilla bean, coriander seeds, star anise, orange zest and clove in a heavy-bottomed 2 quart saucepan. Add  the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, place a lid on your saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the molasses, stir, and return to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the wintergreen extract, replace the lid and let the mixture cool to room temperature and sit for about 5 hours or overnight.

Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth, place over a bowl or pot and pour the steeped infusion into it to strain. Do not press on the contents, but let the roots rest in the strainer for about 30 minutes so everything can drip out. 
Return the sassafras infusion to a pot and add the sugar to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil one more time, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the hot syrup into mason jars, put on lids and let it cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate the syrup.
It will keep for a year in the refrigerator.

Second Ferment - Combining the water kefir and the syrup

4 cups of water kefir (finished the first ferment, grains strained out)
1/4 cup of root beer syrup (you can adjust the amount of syrup to your liking)

Mix the above ingredients, decant into flip top bottles and leave them on your kitchen counter at room temperature for 24 - 48 hrs.  If you have a warm kitchen and the carbonation is really building up, 18-24 hrs. may be enough.
Refrigerate you bottles.


You can also use this syrup with carbonated water to make root beer, or if you have a really fizzy first ferment of the water kefir, forgo the second fermentation and drink it as is!
Personally, I like to get the second ferment in, as it does seem to add to rounding out all the flavors!

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  1. Do you have any nutritional information? Since I'm still low carb, I want to know if I should adapt to reduce the carb load. But, regardless, THANK YOU for this recipe. I really love your site.

  2. Hi Skayne, and thank you for your comment. No, I don't. A lot of the sugar is eaten by the grains and more is used up the longer you let it ferment, but there is no way for me to know how much is or isn't used up and how much is still left. And even if I would know for mine, it wouldn't necessarily apply to yours, since all kefir grains are different and totally unique to your kitchen!
    There is a very fine line of not enough and just right when it comes to the amount of sugar and water kefir fermenting. If you reduce the sugar too much, your grains won't thrive or even die. So, it will probably come down to what you are willing to experiment with and how your body reacts to it!

    However, having said that, you could use raw palm/coconut sugar (like this one
    here) for your water kefir fermentation. It is low glycemic and it feeds the water kefir grains beautifully as it's still full of all the good minerals, etc.

  3. where do you buy wintergreen oil? Having a hard time finding it.

  4. It's wintergreen extract - pretty much any grocery store has it. It's usually in the section with all the other extracts like vanilla, orange, lemon, etc.
    Here's the brand that I use: http://amzn.to/1o7i8ab


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Birgit Kerr