hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet are things that we associate with the
American way of life. However before any of these things became part of
American pastime, Root Beer was on the scene. Root Beer can be traced back to
the time of the American Colonies. A
mug a root beer, on a hot summer day, with just a dab of foam getting stuck on
your nose….what could be more American.
Root Beer has gone through some
changes over the years. The original main ingredient, sassafras has been
outlawed since 1960 by the FDA. It has
been shown to cause cancer in laboratory rats. Thus it is on the list of known
carcinogens. Root beer lives on in a
restructured form. Modern day root beer uses wintergreen or a synthetic
chemical which is similar to sassafras, called sassafrol. Other “secret”
ingredients in various forms of Root Beer include ginger, birch bark, dog
grass, licorice, hops, chiretta,
vanilla, and/or juniper berries.
The production of Root Beer then is
part science, and part art. You can bet that formulas for Root Beer are guarded
secrets, as import to their companies as the formula for secret rocket fuel
might be to a government
All Root Beer must have a some
similar ingredients. Of course sweetness is a vital quality of root beer. There
must be some form of sugar used. This sugar can be simple sucrose (Table sugar)
or other types of sugar such as fructose or even maltose. Corn Syrup can also
be substituted for sugar. Sugar substitutes sugar as aspartame can also be
used. Although you can find a thousand
recipes for making the “root” solution of root beer, the easiest way is to
purchase root beer extract from a store. Root beer extract has many variations
but contains some of the substances discussed above. This is what gives the
drink it’s distinctive flavor. Of course you can make other flavor “pops” by
substituting another flavor for the root beer extract. Maybe you would prefer
to make a cherry or red pop. The
hardest part about making root beer is the carbonated water. How you make the
bubbly, fizzy part is what really takes the most work. Once again there are
several methods of doing this. I will include two ways of doing this for class,
one we describe as the force carbonation method, the other as the natural
carbonation method. Both methods can be
explosive if you are not careful.
FORCED CARBONATION METHOD
One bottle of Root Beer Extract
Sugar (the amount defined on the extract bottle)
Chilled Ice Water (amount defined on the extract bottle)
3 pounds of Dry Ice (frozen Carbon Dioxide)
2 to 5 gallon container with lid
the sugar and the water in the bucket. After this, add the concentrate. You
might want to taste the water at this point to determine if it is sweet enough
(or too sweet). Make any changes that you would like at this point.
point you must add the dry ice and put the cover on top. As the dry ice
sublimates, pressure will build up in the container. It is a good idea to sit
on the container so that the top doesn’t blow off.
strongly recommended that you slightly open and recover the top about every
three or four minutes, to let some of the carbon dioxide to escape. If pressure
gets too great, you could break the container and have a great big mess to
clean up. We are trying to make root beer to drink, not a root beer bomb! Since
room conditions vary greatly, you must be the judge of if pressure is building
up so great as to cause too much of a
stress on the container.
15 minutes, you should have really fizzy root beer. Enjoy!
NATURAL CARBONATION METHOD :
uses yeast as a natural factor, which consumes sugar and releases carbon
dioxide. Although fermentation can produce alcohol, none will be produced in
this experiment because of the short-term nature of the fermentation.
- Pour ½
a bottle of Root Beer Extract over 900 grams of sucrose in a container. Mix well.
the mixture in 10 liters of lukewarm water.
2.0 grams of dried yeast in 500 mL of lukewarm water. Let it stand for 5
minutes. When the temperature reaches 21 degrees Celsius, add another 2.5
grams of dry yeast.
the yeast to the sugar-extract-water mixture, shake well, and pour into
securely or seal with a screw on cap.
the bottles at 21 to 27 degrees Celsius for 5 to 7 days. Place the bottle
on their sides.