Sunday, May 11, 2008

Adventures in High Altitude Cooking: Greenhouse Root Beer

I'm pretty sure root beer is a North American thing and I'm convinced that homemade rootbeer is something the Amish make quite regularly.

Well, I'm not Amish and I'm not even in North America right now where root beer is available. Fortunately, I'm an adventurous soul who is not swayed by the unavailability of things. If you are lacking root beer, just make some. Here's the story of my root beer making adventure.

Step 1: Pull out that bottle of root beer extract that has been sitting in your cupboard for (most likely) years and years. In the past, some Pennsylvanian missionary brought that extract over carefully packaged in their belongings with the hope of making their favorite carbonated beverage some day on foreign soil. Unfortunately they never got the chance and you have inherited their precious botttle of root beer exhilir.

The special root beer extract.

Step 2: Use your handy dandy spigoted water container (normally used to hold spare water in the bathroom in case you ever have a water crisis) to mix together 9 cups of sugar, 5 gallons of water and one bottle of root beer extract.

Mix, mix, mix!

Step 3: Dissolve 1/2 tsp of yeast in 2 cups of warm water and mix with the container of very obviously root beer smelling mixture.

Step 4: Bottle and contain the root beer mixture. Unfortunately, we did not have lots of available bottles so we decided to borrow the buckets we were storing our rice and sugar in. We filled up 2 buckets, two liter bottles and four small water bottles with our root beer mixture.

Step 5: Find a warm place to store the root beer. There's no heat in Peru and it's starting to get cold so what could we do for a warm spot. Thankfully we had just had a small greenhouse built in our backyard. So, in with the lettuce, tomato and broccoli went our root beer mixture.

Our root beer!

Step 6: Wait. You have to let the root beer sit for at least 6 days. (we were trying to make the root beer for a missionary birthday celebration and had exactly 6 days!)

Bethany observes the strange root beer distillery!

Step 7: On Day 6 you take your root beer out and try it! You realize that despite 9 cups of sugar, it is not sweet enough. But it's too late to add sugar, so you take it to the party hoping that most people will have floats that incorporate sugary ice cream.

Setp 8: Enjoy your root beer float!!! Ahhhhh.....

end note: the root beer experiment certainly has not ended yet. After several weeks, I decided to try again with the root beer. I added more sugar and yeast and transferred from buckets (that are not really airtight) to bottles with twisty tops. We'll see how this round turns out!

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