Welcome to Our Healing Roots, a blog exploring natural medicine that returns us to the roots of health and wellbeing. Our Healing Roots, LLC, is a private natural healthcare practice and experiential learning center that advocates the safe use of integrated, natural medicine. Many healing ways have gone by the wayside with the advent of conventional medicine. While it is important to receive professional medical advice for serious conditions, there are many things we can do at home to prevent disease and maintain our health. The Latin word for doctor is docere, which means to be a teacher. Our Healing Roots wholehearted embraces the importance of teaching in healthcare, so that people feel empowered about their health and wellbeing. More information about this business can be found at www.ourhealingroots.net.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Homemade Root Beer

The most common herbal sodas today are ginger ale and root beer. Historically, root beer was a tea/fermented soft drink. The fermentation process helps give the drink its bubbly aspect. From personal experience, fermented root beer is delicious. We unfortunately put too much yeast in our batch and it became a bit explosive when we opened the bottles.

If you are not up to fermenting your own sodas, take heart. There is a much easier way to make your own homemade root beer (or ginger ale). You can cook a soda syrup and add it to carbonated water or seltzer water. Seltzer water is readily available at most grocery stores. If you plan to make your own homemade sodas, I recommend a home carbonation system. An example is the Soda Stream machine which has become quite popular the last few years.  This system can help cut down on the waste of plastic bottles and is a better choice for the environment.

This past weekend, I made my own root beer syrup. I adapted my recipe from several recipes found in two books--Rosemary Gladstar's The Beginners Guide to Medicinal Herbs and Schloss' Homemade Soda. To make the syrup, I simmered several ingredients in water for 20-30 minutes--sarsaparilla, sassafras, raisins, vanilla bean, birch, burdock, licorice, star anise, ginger, dandelion root, cinnamon and carrot. This simmering process is called a "decoction." Many of these herbs and spices are traditionally considered "alteratives" or "blood cleansers." They have been used for centuries to help detoxify the liver and clear stagnation of fluids within the body. Some of these herbs help support healthy blood sugar metabolism, which is an excellent addition to a soda! 

After you make the decoction, you have two choices. Rosemary Gladstar recommends adding the herb stevia to her recipe for sweetness. This would be the healthier choice, but your formula would not last very long in the refrigerator. You can also choose to make a syrup. With the right amount of sugar to preserve it, a syrup can easily last a couple of months in the refrigerator. Syrups are made by adding the right amount of sugar, molasses, and/or honey. In my case, I used unrefined sugar and molasses.

Once you have made your root beer syrup and tea, chill it. Then add carbonated water. By adding your own syrup, you can control the amount of sugar your adding to your sodas. If you are trying to wean off of soda, try slowing reducing the amount of syrup you add until your taste gets adjusted to less sugar in your sodas.

My syrup has just a slight bitter aftertaste. While I enjoy the taste, I don't have craving to drink a lot of it either. I am attributing this to the herbs that support blood sugar metabolism. It is a very satisfying drink and a nice tonic for my liver. I certainly do not recommend drinking lots of this soda, because it is still a botanical medicine tonic and because it contains sugar. Like most medicines, more is not necessarily better.  I will probably have a glass a couple of times a week as a summer treat and then wait again for next year.   

For those of you living in Tulsa, I picked up my copy of Homemade Soda at the store High Gravity at 71st and Memorial.

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