Wild Root Beer Recipe by Sunny Savage of Savage Kitchen

The Island Snakeroot (Polygala Paniculata)

The often “fleeting and ethereal” wintergreen smell of the Island Snakeroot plant gets captured when its roots are fermented for this root beer recipe shares Sunny Savage. She was asked years ago to cook an 8 course wild food dinner for the Center for Food Safety representatives and this root beer was an immense crowd-pleaser. Since then many have asked for this wonderfully wild recipe.

Some of the ingredients you’ll find below are foraged in the forests of Maui. Sunny offers Private Wild Food Hikes with small groups of 4 and downloads hikers with about 40 different plants. Learning what’s edible and locally available has been a life’s passion for Sunny; she has been a dedicated forager for 20+ years. Sunny has an app, Savage Kitchen, centered on sharing tips to confidently identify plants in the wild. With decades of wild dining under her belt she transforms these abundant plants into beautiful masterpieces of ambrosial goodness. She’s also a homeschool mother who likes to collaborate, partnering with many different chefs to create new recipes.

“…Always advocating to do what makes sense logically. Especially living here it’s just crazy to have 85-90% of imports when we live in this paradise of growing and potential.”

Sunny Savage speaks on food security and choosing local.

It’s amazing to realize and utilize the scope of abundance Hawaii has to offer. The food is ripe with flavor and freshness. The packaging is minimal to non-existent. The people who grow food are your neighbors and fellow residents. The plants are grown on these islands that you love so. Look to what Sunny calls “abundance plants” and you’ll find some remarkable things. The wild yeasts on the surface of the false awa flowers are what provide the transformative source of fermentation in this recipe. This is a non-alcoholic beverage that is a 100% local root beer, and all wild ingredients are categorized as “invasive species” in the Hawaiian Islands.

Sunny’s Coveted Wild Root Beer Recipe

Primary Fermenting Ingredients:

  • 1 C. Liquid Honey
  • 2 C. False Awa Flowers (Piper auritum), loosely packed
  • 5 C. Filtered Water

Primary Fermenting Preparation Instructions:

  • Put honey and water into sterilized container, then mix it well. It’s best not to use tap water as it contains chlorine, which can decrease or stop the natural fermentation.
  • Next, add the false awa flowers and stir. Put a piece of cheesecloth, or other type of breathe-able material on the top and put a rubber band or string to tie.
  • Leave the container out of direct sunlight, in a well-ventilated area, and stir with clean utensil 3 times per day. You can begin seeing bubbles within 2 days or it might take up to a week.
  • As soon as you see small bubbles that are forming you will strain out the false awa flowers and add the following ingredients to your root beer.

Secondary Fermenting Ingredients:

  • 3 Island Snakeroot Roots (Polygala Paniculata), whole or loosely chopped 
  • 2 Tbsp. Ginger Root, grated
  • 2 tsp. Kāhili Ginger Root (Hedychium Gardnerianum), grated
  • 5 Coriander Seeds, whole
  • 1″ Piece of Vanilla Bean
  • 3 Cloves
  • 1″ Piece of Cinnamon Bark
  • 5 Fennel Seeds, whole

Secondary Fermenting Preparation Instructions:

  • Gently stir ingredients, then funnel root beer into swing top glass or plastic bottles for fermentation.
  • Leave bottles at room temperature and “burp” them twice a day for 2 days. Burping means that you open and let the gas escape so it doesn’t build up and explode. Open bottles slowly, or a small turn and then quickly closing it up, as it may take some time until all the gas is released.
  • Next, place the bottles in the refrigerator and burp them once per day for 2 or more days.
  • Leave in the refrigerator until you enjoy your cup of 100% local and wild root beer!

Do you have a recipe highlighting Hawaii grown produce that you’d like to share?
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