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'Lacto-Fermented Root Beer' Recipe
Thursday, 02 October 2014 00:00  |  Written by Guest Contributor | Blog Entry

Fermenting Beer photo by Jennifer DickertAs 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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Comments (5)add
Written by simon , October 19, 2011
Lacto Fermentation rules.

Your carboy in the image is an 18 liter (4.5 gallon roughly) if I am not mistaken. this recipe is not correct for that size. Have you made larger quantities? Is the recipe just a multiplication?

I have a few hundred gallons of carboys (Italian hand me downs) and would like to work with larger quantities.

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Written by Vermont Fermentation Adventures , February 20, 2011
I am so glad to see this recipe and look forward to trying it soon. I'll comment after I see it through.
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Written by RKT , January 16, 2011
You can find dried licorice and sassafras roots at pretty much any healthfood store, either in the bulk or tea section.
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Written by Marci , January 16, 2011
Sounds great but where in the world would I find "dried licorice and sassafras roots"!!!!???
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Written by basil , September 05, 2010
Seems like a great recipe. Thanks.
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