What is Root Beer Made of? Unknown Facts

Root Beer making was a traditional activity enjoyed by the Amish community across the globe. This used to be a sweet delight to make homemade root beer till one of its ingredients got banned due to cancerous reasons. Later, there has been an implementation of substitutes like safrole and sassafras to recreate that nostalgic, beloved root beer flavoring. 

Root Beer

What will stop you from making root beer?

If you are longing to make homemade root beer during summers like the Amish communities in Pennsylvania, you might get a disruption when it comes to adding sassafras. 

What’s the story of sassafras, the major flavoring ingredient of root beer?

Sassafras is a flavoring ingredient found in many soaps and scents for its pungent flavor. Sassafras is known to people by several names like saxifrax, Ague tree and cinnamon wood. It is used in various ways like adding scent to soaps, adding flavors to toothpastes and so on. Big multinational brands used to add sassafras to their products. The root of the plant has been used to treat bronchitis, infections and other health conditions. It has also been used to soothe arthritis and bug bites. 

Root Beer

How did the major flavoring ingredient of root beer get banned?

The U.S government had put the kibosh on the commercial use of sassafras in 1976. It stated reasons saying studies have shown that it causes cancer in rats. It is not only the American administration but the European health Commission also declared sassafras to be carcinogenic. 

Various interpretations of the study where rats were given 32 bottles of root beer a day was considered to be equivalent to poison. However, root was removed from root beer and substitutes like wintergreen and other proprietary flavors were added as replacements of sassafras. The major root beer manufacturers like A&W, Barq’s and Stewarts started to use these substitutes in their products. 

The additional information is that sassafras is found in cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg and anise as well.

The bigger brands do not let a little sassafras hamper the production of other soda recipes. The local kitchens use different extracts that taste almost like sassafras and some of them use safrole-free sassafras. 

Root Beer

Where will you find root beer extracts?

The Amish community generally thrives in Pennsylvania or Lancaster to be precise. There are many roadside root beer purveyors and these are the staple of the Amish community during summers. These beers have strong flavors because of the myriad faux flavoring options. 

Several companies have initiated to produce various essences so that the local root beer brewers do not have to think of running in loss. They can add these flavors to their homemade beverages. Shank’s Extracts and Stoltfus Root Beer extract are two companies who make root beer extracts and those are available online as well. 

You can find many options on Amazon and Walmart. They have a wide array of essences like Larissa Veronica, Silver Cloud and McComrick root beer extracts. 

What does homemade root beer contain?

The recipe for root beer is not very hard but simple and easy. The beer consists of yeast, water, sugar and flavorings. You have to add all the ingredients and leave them to ferment for a natural fizziness. Since FDA has banned sassafras a lot of brewers have shifted to other substitute flavorings. However, there are still many home brewers who use sassafras to bring back the traditional, authentic flavor of root beer.

In a nutshell

It used to be a sweet delight to make homemade root beer till one of its ingredients got banned due to its cancerous reasons. Sassafras is a flavoring ingredient found in many soaps and scents for its pungent flavor. Sassafras is known to people by several names like saxifrax, Ague tree and cinnamon wood. It is used in various ways like adding scent to soaps, adding flavors to toothpastes and so on. The U.S government had put the kibosh on the commercial use of sassafras in 1976. It stated reasons saying studies have shown that it causes cancer in rats. The bigger brands do not let a little sassafras hamper the production of other soda recipes. The local kitchens use different extracts that taste almost like sassafras and some of them use safrole-free sassafras. 

Read More: What You’ll Need to Spice Up Your Next Party’s Menu

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