It’s crucial to sanitize all your gear before tackling this project. The bottles and capper, as well as your kitchen tools (mesh sieve, funnel, long-handled spoon, and stockpot) are easiest to sanitize by running through a dishwasher on its “sanitize” setting. To ready the caps, place them in a pot of cold water over high heat; once the water comes to a boil, let cook for 5 minutes. No dishwasher? No problem. Star San ($7.49 for a 4-ounce bottle; greatfermantations.com) is an acid-based, no-rinse sanitizer that can be used on all of the above, including the caps (just be sure to follow the directions on the bottle exactly).
Featured in: Holiday Gifts, By Hand
- 1⁄2 oz. dried birch bark*
- 1⁄2 oz. dried sarsaparilla root*
- 1⁄2 oz. dried sassafras root bark*
- 1⁄4 oz. dried licorice root*
- 1 2-in. piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
- 4 cups molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1⁄4 tsp. active dry yeast
*Because this recipe calls for steeping and straining the botanicals, coarsely chopped varieties are preferred. Measurements are listed by weight, which is more accurate than volume when dealing with chunky ingredients.