Sassafras Wild Edible Food
Sassafras Identification: Sassafras is a medium-sized tree which can be easily identified because it has three distinctive leaf shapes seen in the picture. Sassafras is somewhat unique in that it is little more than a shrub in the north yet attains medium-sized tree height in the Smokey mountains and much of the south. Sassafras ranges from Texas to Maine.
Sassafras Uses: First a warning. One cup of strong sassafras tea can contain as much as 4 times the amount of safrole believed hazardous to humans if consumed on a regular basis. Fear is it causes cancer in the liver.
Use at your own risk. I personally and many agree that moderate occasional use is not a significant threat. Use in moderation.
Steps to make Sassafras Tea:
First locate a Sassafras tree. Small saplings are best because you can more easily be assure you are getting the roots from the proper plant.
Pull up the sassafras roots. Wash the dirt away from the roots and then cut the roots into small 2 inch pieces. Then place the cut roots in cool, dry place for a week.
Now strip the bark from the roots. The bark is where the tree stores its sap during the winter months. Bark can be used now or stored in airtight containers until you are ready to use them.
Boil covered 2 ounces of this bark in a quart of water for twenty minutes or so and then allow it to cool. You likely will not be weighing out 2 ounces so simply experiment till you get the concentration that is most suitable to you. Strength of the tea will depend on the roots concentration so there is not 100% sure pat answer on this.
Add the some sugar to taste if it is available.
Hint. Try to make the tea stronger than you want and then dilute it with water until you get the proper concentration to suit your taste.
Second Use... Seasoning!
Have you ever heard of File' (fillet) Gumbo? Well the file' is the ground up leaves of a sassafras tree. And the most common use of this seasoning is to sprinkle it on the top of your bowl of gumbo.