As I will freely admit, I adore fermentation. I wrote about my fascination with it in a recent blog entry on this site. What's so great about fermentation? Well, it's fun, healthy, saves money and connects us intimately to our food. And, as I mentioned in my blog entry, "nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment I get from the sour-tangy taste of well-fermented food." You'll find plenty of fermentation recipes scattered across the Web, but one of the easiest and most delicious that I've found is for lacto-fermented root beer.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
- a few spoonfuls each of dried licorice and sassafras roots
- 2 quarts water
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup natural sugar (try sucanat or rapadura)
- 1 cup ginger bug or 1 cup yogurt whey
- optional additions: a vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, citrus zest…
- First, make your ginger bug or collect yogurt whey. For whey, line a strainer with cheesecloth and set over a large bowl. Set some yogurt in the strainer and leave for 24 hours. The whey will have drained out into the bowl. To make a ginger bug, put 1 cup of water in a jar, then add 2 teaspoons of white sugar and 2 teaspoons of grated ginger. Shake it up, cover and leave in a warm place. Every day, add 2 more teaspoons each of sugar and ginger until it starts getting bubbly. Depending on how warm it is, this will take several days to a week.
- Put sassafras, licorice and optional additions in a large pot and pour 1 quart of the water over it. Bring to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave covered for about 30 minutes.
- Pour the maple syrup and sugar into a two-quart mason jar, and strain the root mixture into the jar. Stir well, and add the remaining 1 quart of water.
- When the liquid has cooled to about 100 degrees (warm but not hot to the touch) add the ginger bug or whey. Screw on the lid and leave in a warm place for one week.
- After a week, pour the mixture into bottles, cap tightly and leave in a warm place for one more week.
- Transfer to the fridge. Once they are cold, enjoy anytime! It’s a good precaution to open the bottles over a sink, as they may have built up some carbonation.
See more delicious, nutritious and eco-friendly recipes in Eco Recipes.
[This piece was written by Lindsay Meisel and provided courtesy of the Society for Agriculture and Food Ecology (SAFE). – ed.]
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