Sarsaparilla is a prickly stemmed vine native to Central America. Its stem, root and leaves all have culinary applications, particularly for making beverages like root beer. Originally sarsaparilla soda used fermentation by yeast and sugar for creating bubbles, as did all soda pop. These beverages bore the title of "small beers" because they had minor amounts of alcohol. Come the advent of carbonation, fermented soda waned and was replaced by fountain beverages as we know them today.
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Things you need
- Small pan
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 litres sparkling water or club soda
- Large pan or mixing bowl
- 1 tablespoon sarsaparilla extract
Make a simple sugar syrup. Put the small pan on your stove, filling it with the sugar and water. Bring this to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Let this cool to room temperature.
Pour the two bottles of sparkling water or club soda into your mixing bowl or pot. Dispense them slowly. Rapid pouring releases more carbonation. Save the bottles to refill with the finished sarsaparilla.
Stir in the room-temperature sugar water a little at a time. Test for sweetness periodically. You do not have to use all the sugar if you want a beverage with less intense sweetness. You may also make more simple syrup if it's not sweet enough for your tastes.
Add the sarsaparilla extract a little at a time and test the flavour. As with the sugar, you can adjust the amount added to your tastes.
Use a funnel to pour the sarsaparilla soda into the bottles and cap tightly. Drink as desired. This is refreshing over ice with a slice of lemon.
Tips and warnings
- Home and speciality stores carry soda pop flavouring that you can experiment with for different types of homemade pop. There are also outlets for inexpensive carbonation supplies if you want to make your own carbonated water.
- Do not mix the soda pop in the litre bottles themselves as the mix bubbles heavily when you add the sugar.
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