- Root Beers in American History Chapter 2
- Equipment Chapter 3
- First Batches: Root Beer and Ginger Ale Chapter 4
- Basic Modern Recipes Chapter 5
- Switchels Shrubs Vinegar Drink and Mulled Beverages Chapter 6
- Ingredients for Devising Your Own Recipes Chapter 7
- Ensuring Variety
Excerpt from page IV
This book explains how root beers and other traditional soft drinks can still be made "from scratch" at home and includes a number of recipes devised especially for this volume. You'll also find a generous sprinkling of recipes dating from much earlier times which I have been collecting for many years culling them from old cookbooks newspapers and magazines. Featuring yesterday's tastes alongside today's techniques Homemade Root Beer Soda and Pop is able to fill several needs.
First there is an unfortunate lack of books that discuss the creation of homemade soft drinks. A few books include one or two recipes but these are hard to find. Second as a history teacher I enjoy delving into the past. Accumulating recipes for root beers ginger ales and birch beers dating back many years decades and even centuries has been a pleasurable pastime. I've found some particularly unusual recipes such as those for Tomato Beer and Pumpkin Ale. Rather than allow these recipes to molder in dusty cookbooks and forgotten journals I wanted to share them with people who might be interested in re-creating the potable treasure of years gone by. Finally this book will teach techniques of brewing that are quite similar to those used in beer making and those who choose to do so can very easily go on to add delicious homebrewed beers to their repertoire of bottled homemade beverages.
HISTORICAL RECIPES IN THIS BOOK
The sidebars of this book contain the word-for-word recipes written down many years ago by farm wives amateur scientists women journalists and experts in home economics. I enjoy reading these recipes because they offer a rare window into what Americans were drinking with their dinner--or during the hot work of blacksmithing threshing or clothes washing--so long ago. Often the most valuable parts of the recipe are the little comments by the person recording it comments that tell us of American attitudes about taste about drinking and even about humanity.
These recipes may give you ideas for formulating new and modern ones on your own. Or you may want to try some of these recipes as written with no variation in the ingredients Really though you will obtain the best results by adhering to the modern brewing techniques outlined in chapter 3. You'll enjoy success by following the "refrigerator method" that was used in all of the modern soft drink recipes in this book. As with the modern recipes these older recipes will benefit from the use of utensils carboys and bottles that have been sanitized ahead of time with hot water to which some plain chlorine bleach has been added (about 2 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water).
Note too some differences in terminology. In years gone by when a recipe called for yeast it was expected that the cook would add a lump of bread dough (containing as it did active yeast) or a measure of beer with still-active yeast in it. Accordingly many of the historical recipes call for half a cup of more of yeast. This would be an absurdly excessive amount using today's granulated yeast. With modern ale yeast (available from homebrew supply shops) about 1/8 teaspoon per gallon should be about right. Actually the precise measure is really unimportant. The yeast will simply multiply until all the sugars are fermented--or until you stop the fermentation by chilling. Using more yeast than 1/8 teaspoon may cause the carbonation to proceed more quickly than you expect however. Wine yeast or even bread yeast will work too in the same amounts as with ale yeast if ale yeast isn't available.
The earliest recipes here come from the 1600s; the last of them was written down in 1939. While none of the recipes was designed to make a strong alcoholic drink remember the basic principles of brewing to ensure that you create essentially nonalcoholic drinks if that is important to you. To make a virtually nonalcoholic drink you should not allow the yeast and sugar to work together for more than an hour or so before bottling. Except in the case of citrus drinks which carbonate very slowly nonalcoholic drinks should "work" only two or three days after bottling. Move them to the refrigerator as soon as the carbonation is right. Don't allow the drinks to overcarbonate or the alcohol in the drink might prove to go beyond trace amounts.
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