Sarsaparilla is a common ingredient in popular sodas like root beer and birch beer. Different parts of the sarsaparilla plant can also be used to make wines.
Sarsaparilla is a vine with a prickly stem native to Central America. Its stem and leaves may be used in beverages, but the most common part of the plant used is extract from the root.
Sarsaparilla is native to Central America. Its name comes from the Spanish zarzaparilla.
The sarsaparilla soda is comparable to a root beer. While most root beer is made with wintergreen leaves, sarsaparilla is made from the extract of the sarsaparilla root.
Wintergreen has been the primary ingredient in root beers since the Food and Drug Administration banned sassafras in mass-market recipes in 1960, although sassafras is commonly used in home brewing.
Sarsaparilla root beer
Bring 2 gallons of water to a boil. Add 2 ounces of sarsaparilla root extract, 2 ounces of sassafras extract, 1/2 ounce of licorice, 2 ounces of wintergreen, and 2.5 pounds of sugar. Add water as necessary to bring the final back product to 2 gallons.
Boil 1 pound of sarsaparilla root in 4 gallons of water for 5 hours, then add water to bring it to 2 gallons (some of the water will have boiled off).
Add 10 ounces tartaric acid and 1 pound of sugar.
When serving, use a mixture of 50% water and 50% mead.
Wine can be made with sarsaparilla root, flowers, leaves or extract. Wine yeast, yeast nutrient and sugar are other necessary ingredients, but beyond that, recipes vary greatly, including tartaric acid, citric acid, bananas, caramel and other flavors.
- Photo Credit Doug Becker: Creative Commons
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