It’s been a while since I’ve been here, and the only thing to mention, unfortunately, is that I made some sarsaparilla.
There are many reasons it could have gone south and I think I’ve identified them, but it is still disappointing.
Two weekends ago I went home, home to Chicago to be with my lady, and was excited to use the new 5 gallon stock pot and buckets and other paraphernalia I had purchased for us to use. I also bought a pound of sarsaparilla root and half a pound of sassafras root.
Arriving home I immediately went to work. Filled up my pot with about two gallons of water and started a boil. I put about 7 to 8 tablespoons of sarsaparilla, 3 to 4 tablespoons of sasafras, maybe a cup and a half of sugar, and half a cup of chopped raisins into the pot. Brought the potion to a boil and let it simmer for about half an hour. After only 5 minutes it was filling the kitchen with the sweet aroma of sassafras.
I let the mixture return to room temperature and added another 2 gallons or so of water. I strained out the roots and raisins and proofed the yeast. I was very excited because this was the first time I purchased real ale yeast. Before I had used bread yeast and while this works fine, the tonic you are left with smells very yeasty.
I think what happened is I either added too little yeast, or did not let it sit long enough. Perhaps the potency of bread yeast and ale yeast are different as well. Also, the last time I made my ginger ale and sarsaparilla it was so deathly hot out that the fermentation time was much shorter.
In short, the “tea” that came from boiling the roots and sugar was very tasty, but it never reached a soda because it didn’t ferment at all. Next time I plan on using a small plastic soda bottle and waiting until it is hardened by the carbonation before I discontinue the fermentation.
This is how we all felt after sampling it.