The sassafras tree is native to eastern North America From Maine to Ontario, south to Florida and Texas. In the North it is a shrub growing only to 7 or 8 feet, but in the Southern States it sometimes attains a height of 100 feet. Found growing in thickets, rich woods, forest openings and edges, roadsides and fence rows. Root sprouts grow vigorously and colonize the area around the main tree.
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Sassafras tea is made from the root bark, it is refreshing and tonic. An infusion of the bark is used for gastrointestinal complaints, colds, liver and kidney ailments, rheumatism skin eruptions and as a blood purifier. A sassafras tree repels mosquitoes and other insects. All parts of the tree contain essential oils and give off a pleasant spicy aroma when crushed.
Did you know? Sassafras tea was America's first tea. As the first English settlers explored the New World, they must've seen Native Americans smacking their collective lips on citrus, spicy, aromatic Sassafras Albidum products. The settlers tried it and soon became addicted to it. (Because it is almost easier to drink down than most MBA programs!) In the 1600's, England imported boatloads of sassafras tonic because they believed it was the fountain of youth. Sassafras became so popular that England demanded it from the colonies as a condition of charter.
Popular Sassafras Recipes
1 package powdered pectin
3 cups honey
2 tablespoons Florida Herb House sassafras powder
Boil sassafras powder for 30 minutes and then strain. Measure 2 cups of the sassafras tea into a large saucepan. Add pectin and just barely bring to a boil. Add honey and sassafras root bark that has been grated to a fine powder. Simmer for 6 minutes. Put into sterilized glasses. For pints, process them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, and for half-pints, process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
Sassafras Candy - This candy can be made year-round, either by using stored roots in the freezer or by going out and digging a fresh supply of roots. The key to making an intense-flavored sassafras candy is to add the root pieces near the end of the process rather than at the beginning, because the flavor in the oil will cook off.
4-6 oz of Florida Herb House Sassafrass Bark Bark Powder
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1 tablespoons butter
1 well-buttered large glass baking dish or cookie sheet, with a rim of ½ inch or more
Simmer water and add the ingredients (except the sassafras powder) to the liquid. Boil at high temperature and get a candy thermometer ready. When the boiling liquid approaches a temperature of between 290-300 degrees, stir in the bark powder and mix well. The mixture will sizzle and drop in temperature a little.
When the temperature of the mixture gets back up to between 300-310 degrees (the "hard crack" stage), remove from the heat and then pour it out into the baking dish or cookie sheet and spread evenly. As the candy begins to solidify, you may want to score its surface with a knife to help you break it into uniform pieces later. Store whatever you don't eat right away in tightly sealed glass jars in a cool place, and it should retain its flavor and hardness for a year or so.
How to Make Sassafras Tea
We get lots of emails about how to make sassafras herbal tea, here are the basic directions.
1 teaspoon Florida Herb House sassafras bark powder
8 ounces of boiling water
Simmer and steep the sassafras in the water for 20 minutes. Sweeten with sugar or honey.
Precautions: Sassafras was originally used to make root beer and when clinical studies showed large amounts of sassafras can cause liver cancer, the herb was no longer used. Many people drink sassafras herbal tea, the amish for one, swear by it and do not heed the side effects and there have been no reported troubles. In the USA south, sassafras is used in many dishes and to make root beer and other drinks. If you are going to use sassafrass roots and bark in teas and other dishes, just don't over do it.