sassafras roots (Sassafras albidum) during our mild autumn. This small tree grows in Connecticut abundantly, and gathering the roots, bark and leaves is relatively easy. It is easily identified in the summer by looking for its 3 different leaves: a mitten shaped leaf, an egg shaped leaf, and a 3-lobed leaf. The bark is green on the small saplings, but as the tree gets larger you can see a reddish-orange coloring in between the furrows of the grey bark. Small saplings for pulling roots will grow in dense clusters next to the mother tree. We grab the sapling and give it a slow, steady pull until about 12"-24" of root will come up before breaking. It's the roots that you will need for this recipe, and you can pull them fresh until the ground freezes.
This recipe will be available in our book, due Spring 2016.
Sassafras Root Beer makes about 4- 1 quart bottles
1/4 lb. fresh sassafras root
1 gallon water
22 oz. sugar
1/2 oz fresh or frozen spicebush berries (optional)
2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 1/4 tsp. beer yeast
for the bottling:
4 tsp. raw turbinado sugar
1.Boil the fresh sassafras roots with the water for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add the sugar, spicebush berries, and lime juice. Allow the mixture to cool to 90°F.
2. Remove a cup of the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast over the top, allowing it to dissolve and become a bit foamy. Pour the yeast mixture and the remaining decoction into a 1 gallon glass jar fitted with an airlock. Ferment for 3 days.
3. Strain the roots and berries from the beer. To the bottom of each sanitized bottle, add one tsp. of raw turbinado sugar. Pour in 4 c. of the beer, and close the hinge-lock top.
4. Refrigerate the bottles, checking for fizz in about 5 days. You may have to release some fizz if you store it for more than 2 weeks. Serve chilled.