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 Posted: Thu May 12th, 2011 10:13 pm
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Hellcat
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Don't know if anyone is interested or not, but Stephen Cresswell lists some historical drinks in his book Homemade Root Beer, Soda, and Pop. There are several recipes in the book that date to the were or before including a lemon beer from 1861, a 17th century birch beer, a molasses beer from 1853 and a pumpkin ale from 1771.



 Posted: Fri May 13th, 2011 01:50 am
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Albert Sailhorst
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Thanks, Helcat!!....One of my other hobbies (besides CW reenacting/study) is making my own beer!!!....I always wantd to try my hand a root beer!!!!

Last edited on Fri May 13th, 2011 01:50 am by Albert Sailhorst



 Posted: Fri May 13th, 2011 04:17 am
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Hellcat
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Oh I've got a couple books with recipes for making root beer. And of course the simplese way is simple syrup, carbonated wate, and root beer extract. But Cresswell's book is the only one that gives dates for some historic recipies for sodas. None of the historic root beer recipes in the book are dated to the war which is why I didn't bother mentioning them, but there are several that were in existence during the war. Didn't know of any re-enactors might be interested in that.

But there are also plenty of recipes that Cresswell put in that are more modern, including a couple for making your own root beer extract. He also has a version of dandelion wine he calls dadelion champagne because it's carbonated.

 



 Posted: Tue May 17th, 2011 09:56 pm
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Hellcat
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Managed to find my other book, Laura E. Quarantiello's The Root Beer Book: A Celebration of America's Favorite Soft Drink.  Only one of the root beer recipes can be dated beyond '97 (claims it's a 1910 Root Beer recipe). There are a few that are claimed to be old but no clue when they date to. So from a re-enacting stand point their probably not useable. From a hobby standpoint they'd be great.

However, the more interesting thing about this book is it gives some history on root beer. Supposedly there are examples of bottles dating from the 1840s through the 1860s with root beer written on them. The first commercially produced root beer was produced in 1842 by a John Dearborn in NYC. Prior to Charles Hires first producing Hires Root Beer in 1876 all commercially produced root beer as well as any home grown root beers were strictly local drinks, Hires is the first nationaly commerical brand. Something that gets me though on the earlier mentioned bottles reading root beer is the legend that Hires originally called it Hires Herb Tea but Reverend Russell Conwell convinced him to call it root beer instead because the Philly miners would never drink something called tea. Now the way I've always read this as that it sounded like all root beers were called root teas or herb teas and it was the Hires drink that caused the change. Maybe it was just the Hires drink was changed.

The is another thing that if it's true may be of some interest. Supposedly in the  Harriet Tubman sold root beer along with gingerbread and homemade pies in order to support herself. Now the thing that really gets me is the sentence that mentions this seems to contradict itself. It first says she did this during the 1850s, but then it says she did it while she was serving as a nurse, spy, and scout during the war. It could be both or it could be that was supposed to say during the 1860s instead of during the 1850s.



 Posted: Wed May 18th, 2011 03:51 am
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Albert Sailhorst
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Interesting.......So, how does Saspirilla fit in???

Thanks for the research & info!!!!



 Posted: Wed May 18th, 2011 04:42 am
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Hellcat
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Sarsaparilla is one of many possible ingredient in root beer. Cresswell also mentions that it's root and sassafras root are both traditional ingredients in sarsaparilla soda. And yes I spelled it sarsaparilla instead of sasparilla as the Smilax regelii plant is commonly known as the sarsaparilla which gets shortened to sasparilla. No cclue about that though. However, you might be interested in this site (http://www.nutrasanus.com/sarsaparilla.html). According to what it says, they were using it in the 1850s as a syphilis cure among other things. Early root beers were touted for their helth benifits. So it'd not be terribly surprising to find it among the igredients of root beers of the time.



 Posted: Thu May 19th, 2011 01:21 am
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Albert Sailhorst
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Shoot!!!....I need to find the time to make some root beer/sasaparilla for the boys in my reenactin group!!!....I just need time!!!....We've go a boat-load of reenacting events, we're going to Wilson's Creek for the 150th, we're doing a Historical Society demonstration in my town and I an hosting our annual Summer Encampment at our house.....In addition to trying to keep the yard mowed, my son's little league, etc!!! Even though it is now mid-May, my summer is already gone!!!



 Posted: Thu May 19th, 2011 01:55 am
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Hellcat
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That's just the way it goes. Get a million and one things going before anything gets going and your year is gone. Yeah I know you said summer, I'm just thinking of having had different times of the year where I've had so much planned and not enough time to get all of them done. Too bad we can't freeze time some times. Just imagine mowing the lawn in a second and it still taking the usual amount of time just cause you froze time to do it in.

Course could just go the easy way of making the root beer from a root beer extract. Wouldn't be historically acurate and I don't know how historically accurate you want the drinks to be. But it could cut down on time for you. The big thing is letting it set and checking it to get the carbonation.



 Posted: Thu May 19th, 2011 02:07 am
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Albert Sailhorst
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I also forgot to mention the Hawken rifle I need to work on and the Mountain Howitzer I bought needs work done on the trail!!!.....At this point, I think the boys would hafta be content with root beer made from extract!!!.....Having never made it before, I hope I can apply what I know about carbonating my home made beer to that of root beer.....

Thanks!!!



 Posted: Thu May 19th, 2011 05:24 am
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Hellcat
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You should be able to, I'd imagine. Beer yeast is one of the yeasts Cresswell discusses as an ingredient for trying to make ones one root beer and soft drink recipes. And a 1912 recipe for root beer from Fleischmann's (never knew they were that old) uses an ounce of either hops or ginger root, though to be perfectly honest I've never tried making beer so I don't know if hops is just used for flavoring or if it's combined with yeast for carbination.



 Posted: Thu May 19th, 2011 05:20 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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Hops are used for flavor.....Different types of hops impart different flavors......That's why some European beers can smell "skunkey", for example.

Once my wort (beer before it is "beer") has fermented, I mix a half cup of corn sugar into the 5 gallons of wort, then bottle it. After about a week, the corn sugar I added causes carbonation to take place....



 Posted: Fri May 20th, 2011 05:14 am
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Hellcat
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Ok, maybe it'd be a bit different. Quarantiello does give some very basic recipies for making root beer. The easiest is to make up a simple sugar syrup by boiling two cups sugar in one cup of water for a while then cool it and refrigerate until you plan to use it.  Then you take and put one to two teaspoons of the syrup into a glass of soda water and add enough root beer extract to suit your taste.

Another calls for two cups sugar, 1 teaspoon yeast, and t tablesppos of root beer extract. Place them in a gallon jug and add a quart of very warm water, stirring until well mixed. Then fill the rest of the jug with warm water and place the lid on it. Let it stand for forty-eight hours to two weeks then refrigerate to stop the carbination process.

Another, more in depth process she lists goes like this. Take 1/8 to 1/4 tablespoon of yeast and add it to one cup of luke warm water, letting it stand for five minutes for the yeast to disolve completely. If it doesn't then throw it out and start again. In a seperate bowl combine one tablespoon of root beer extract with two cups of sugar and enough warm water to disolve the sugar completely. Once the sugar is disolved add the yeast mixture. Add this mixture to enough warm water to bring you up to 1 gallon of finished product. Then taste the mixture using a spoon, if it doesn't taste sweet enough add more sugar and if it doesn't have enough root beer flavor add more extract. Once it's to your liking pour it off into 1 liter bottles to within an inch from the top and cap it tightly to allow the carbonation to  build.  Then set the bottles aside for about three or four days at room temp keeping them away from stoves, microwaves fridges, or sunlight. After that move them to a cool dark place for a week or two.

She does add a table for the above process to increase the batch. 2 Gallons, up the yeast to 1/4 to 1/2 teaspon, the extract to 1 oz., the sugar to four cups, and enough water for two gallons. 4 gallons, up the yeast to 1/2 to 1 teaspon, the extract to 1 bottle, the sugar to 8 cups, and enough water for four gallons.

The only recipe I can find at the moment from Cresswell for making root beer from root beer extract calls for making it from homemade extract. It'd be more time consuming on you to make the extract, but it'd let you make up to eight gallons of root beer.
    • 1 1/2 cups raisins, coarsely chopped
    • 3 cups boiling water
    • 2 gallons water
    • 1 1/2 onces dried sassafras root bark
    • 7 1/2 pounds (15 cups) sugar
    1. Place the raisin into  a pan. Pour 3 cups boiling water over them and cover, allowing the raisins to steep.
    2. Meanwhiles, place 2 gallons water in the brew pot, over a medium heat, and add the sassafras root bark. As water heats, stir in the sugar slowly. Simmer,  uncovered, for about 40 minutes.
    3. Remove from heat and strain raisin water into the brew pot. Allow to sit, covered, for 30 minutes. You needn't worry about "wild yeast" infections; the canner will destroy any unwanted microbes.
    4. Pout the extract into the canning jars. With a clean cloth, wipe off any spills on the rims. Put bands and lids in place and process in your canner. (Follow the instructions that came with your canner or with the bands and lids.)
    Assuming all goes well and the dome lids seal properly, this extract can be stored almost indefinitely at room temperature.

    8 quarts of extract (makes 8 gallons of root beer.
Using this extract recipe you then use this recipe for making root beer from extract
    1.  To make up a 1-gallon batch of root beer, simply empty the contents of one of the quart jars into a pan containing three quartes of water. Heat gently to mix, but do not allow to get hotter than luke warm.
    2. Add 1/8 teaspoon ale yeast to the lukewarm liquid, bottle, and put the bottles in a dark place.
    3. Check carbonation after 48 hours and again after 72 hours. When carbonation is right, refrigerate.
He does suggest placing the jars in very hot water for ten minutes to get all the extract to come out more easily.

Also, you might try using plastic bottles for making your root beer in over glass for one reason. Carbonation testing. You can just squeeze the plastic bottles until their firm to the touch to tell when the carbonation is right. That way you don't have to crack the cap to test the carbonation lavel.



 Posted: Fri May 20th, 2011 11:21 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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Sounds like a nice rainy Saturday afternoon project!!!

Thanks!!!



 Posted: Sat May 21st, 2011 06:16 am
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Hellcat
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Welcome and good luck.



 Posted: Tue Jul 5th, 2011 11:32 pm
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Hellcat
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Hey, got another one for you. Got the Spauldings Civil War Recipes: Receipts from the Pages of Godey's Lady's Book for Christmas and since this thread I've been looking through it for other things (still gotta try doing the Welsh Rabbit recipe the right way instead of leaving out the ale) and I stumbled upon a recipe for Carbonated Syrup Water from 1860 and 1862. The recipe is:

Put into a tumbler lemon, raspberry, strawberry, pineapple or any other acid syrup, sufficent in quantity to flavor beverage very higly. Then pour in very cold ice water till the glass is half full. Add half a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda (to be obtained at the druggist's), and stir it well in with a teaspoon. It will foam up immediately, and must be drank during the effervescence.

By keeping the syrup and the carbonate of soda in the house, and mixing them as above with ice water, you can at any time have a glass of this pleasant drink; precisely similar to that which yu get at the shops.* The cost is infantly less.

 

Ok, the asterick there is a historic footnote in the book mentioning that soda waters and the counters where they were served were firmly in place by the time the war came along. Knew soda existed by then, but I always thought the soda counter was more a gay 90s introduction.

And you may already have the bicorbonate of soda at home. Got any Arm & Hammer baking soda? Their the same thing. Think I'll see if this works with Root Beer concentrate.



 Posted: Wed Jul 6th, 2011 02:37 am
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Hellcat
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Ok, that was a fail. Forgot that vinegar is an acid and that's the reason for the fizzing between baking soda and vinegar. No acid in the concentrate, that stuff tasted nasty. Plus I didn't have enough concentrate in the glass to get much root beer flavor. So it really did taste like baking soda flavored water. Maybe if I'd add a little vinegar to cause it to fizz, and absolutely more concentrate. Somehow I doubt that would save it though.



 Posted: Sat Apr 13th, 2013 03:01 pm
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Anyone ever tried that Southern substitute for coffee during the war (or one of them, anyway): acorn coffee?

The stuff came back in the UK during WW1 and WW2, and a little bit in the US during the Depression and WW2. I learned about it 30 years ago in Boy Scouts.

Gather up fresh acorns in the autumn. Boil them, shell them, and dry the nut matter. Roast that in the oven, grind it up like coffee beans, and then brew as normal.

How's that for all'y'all hardcore Confederate reenacting types? :D



 Posted: Sat Apr 13th, 2013 03:43 pm
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Hellcat
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I remember my Boy Scout manual having a recipie for dandelion root coffee as a substitute for real coffee. You were supposed to char the roots and chop them fine then add them to boiling water. Can remember trying to do it once at home and thinking the stuff tasted horrible. Tasted like you'd taken a burning log and dunked it in a bucket of water and then removed it and immediately drank from the bucket. Of course to be fair I...
  1. D
  2. idn't know how to make coffee at the time
  3. D
  4. idn't dig up and char enough dandelion roots to make the stuff
  5. A
  6. dd too much water to the amount of chopped roots I had
  7. D
  8. idn't strain the root out well enough

Years ago I did grab most of the original CWi cookbook which did contain a coffee section. Most of the recipes were from during the war and came from Georgie and SC.


COFFEE [ICE] CREAM

1 c. whole coffee beans, roasted light brown
1 qt. whole milk
yolks of 8 eggs
Sugar

Toast two gills of raw coffee till it is a light brown, and not a grain burnt; put it hot from the toaster without grinding it, into a quart of rich, and perfectly sweet milk; boil it, and add the yelks of eight eggs; when done, strain it through a sieve and sweeten it; if properly done, it will not be discolored. [Freeze in ice cream freezer according to directions with machine.] The coffee [beans] may be dried, and will answer for making in the usual way to drink, allowing more for the quantity of water than if it had not gone through this process.
From The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph, 1824.

RYE COFFEE

Take rye, boil it, but not so much as to burst the grain; then dry it, either in the sun, on the stove, or in a kiln, after which it is ready for parching, to be used like the real Coffee Bean. Prepared in this manner, it can hardly be distinguished from the genuine Coffee. The Rye when boiled and dried, will keep for any length of time, so as to have it ready whenever wanted for parching.
F. W. Claussen in the Charleston, SC Mercury, Feb. 8, 1862.



CHINQUAPIN COFFEE

According to the Augusta Constitionalist, chiniquapins are said to be a very fair substitute for coffee. [Note: the chiniquapin is a tree nut that grows only in the south. It is said to resemble chestnuts.]
From the Yorkville, GA, Enquirer, Sept. 30, 1863.




POTATO AND PERSIMMON COFFEE

Save the seeds of the persimmon after they have been boiled, and you let out the slop; for they are excellent for coffee, rather stronger and rougher than the genuine Rio [South American coffee, usually
imported from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil] hence I mix two parts of dried potatoes to one of persimmon seeds. By the boiling the seeds are rid of all mucilaginous substances and just right for coffee or buttons. If you use them for buttons, the washerwoman will hardly break them with her battling stick. For coffee, they should be parched twice as long as any other substitute, so as to make them tender in the centre.
From the Confederate Baptist, Columbia SC, Nov. 18, 1863.



CANE SEED COFFEE

I have found from experiments I have made that the seed of the sugar cane (Sorgho Sucre), parched and ground as coffee, prepared in the usual way, but by being boiled a little longer, makes an excellent substitute for coffee. My own impression is that, if it were brought into general use, thousands would adopt its use, instead of coffee, even if coffee should again be offered at its former
lower prices, from the fact that all could grow and cultivate it with so little labor, and from its approaching so near the best Java.
From the Yorkville, SC, Enquirer, Jan. 21, 1863.


PEA COFFEE

The preparation consists simply of the common English pea, picked from the vine when dry, and roasted to a dark cinnamon brown. The taste, says the Savannah Republican, is slightly pungent and most palatable, and we would not turn on our heel to exchange it for the genuine article. Try it.
From the Albany, GA, Patriot, June 30 1864. Reprinted in The Confederate Housewife, John Hammond Moore, editor.


BURNT SUGAR COFFEE

Brown sugar
Hot water
Real coffee

Take some brown sugar, says the New Orleans Picayune, and burn it perfect black. Then add hot water till it is reduced to the consistence of syrup, and put it in a bottle ready for use. For six persons, take five tablespoons of the liquid and put it in your coffee pot; then put in the dripper one tablespoonful of ground coffee, and drip the boiling water through the syrup, in such a quantity as suits your taste. It is now ready for the table, where it is prepared in the usual manner with milk and sugar. To the above proportions can be
added more coffee, if you have it to spare. The burnt syrup will keep any length of time. Care must be taken not to pour the burnt syrup through the dripper.
From the Milledgeville, GA Southern Federal Union, May 13, 1862.


GRAPE COFFEE

Grape seeds, ground or crushed
Brew as for regular coffee

The seeds of grapes are very generally used in Germany as a substitute for coffee, and they make an excellent substitute. When pressed, they yield a quantity of oil, and afterwards, when boiled, furnish a liquid very similar to that of coffee. Its flavor is delicious. From Southern Field & Fireside, Augusta GA, Aug. 8, 1863. Reprinted in The Confederate Housewife by John Hammond Moore.


WAR COFFEE

1 spoonful coffee
1 spoonful toasted corn meal

A very good coffee can be made, costing only 12 1/2 cents, by mixing one spoonful of coffee with one spoonful of toasted corn meal. Boil well and clear in the usual way. I have used it for two weeks, and several friends visiting my house say they could not discover anything peculiar in the taste of my coffee, but pronounced it very good. Try it, and see if we can't get along comfortably even
while our ports are blockaded by the would-be king.
Recipe submitted by a reader to the Sumter, SC, Tri-Weekly
Watchman, July 8, 1861



 Posted: Sun Apr 14th, 2013 05:21 pm
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Acorn coffee isn't half bad, but is no substitute for the real thing. Not really.

Now another substitute I know of that is pretty nice is yaupon. They still make the stuff in the South in old timey places.



 Posted: Wed Feb 26th, 2014 06:23 pm
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Acorn coffee! Holy cats, I believe it. Real historical root beer would be awesome to try, but still no substitute for fresh-ground black-gold, home-brewed; ties me to the Civil War every day.



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