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Sassy Sassafras Recipes

Angela Gillaspie



Got a hankerin' for some sassafras? Try these recipes and don't forget that you can freeze and reuse the roots several times.

Sassafras Jelly
Sassafras roots
1 package powdered pectin
3 cups honey
2 tablespoons sassafras root bark, ground fine

Boil sassafras roots 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 Tea
Sassafras roots

When you get the roots of the sassafras tree, scrub them careful not to wash away the root bark. Granny used to say that the small roots had better and fresher sap than the large roots. Put water into a pan and let the water boil. When the water comes to a boil, add the roots. Boil. I usually boil until the liquid is a deep reddish brown. The darker the liquid is, the stronger the flavor. Remove from heat. Put a coffee filter in a metal strainer and pour liquid through this into a pitcher, add enough sugar to your liking and serve hot or cold. I like mine icy cold.

Sassafras Mead
Sassafras roots
3 pints molasses
A pint and half of white honey
A heaping tablespoon of cream of tartar

Carefully wash roots and boil in water until desired strength, strain through cheesecloth (or coffee filter), stirring in molasses and honey. Place in saucepan and bring slowly to the boiling point, allowing it to simmer for about ten minutes; again strain and add cream of tartar and seal in airtight bottles. Serve in tall slender glasses containing two tablespoons of shaved ice and a liberal pinch of bicarbonate of soda; fill quickly with the mead and stir vigorously with a long handled spoon.

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.

2 cups sassafras root pieces or bark (i.e., enough roots to yield at least 1/2 cup of pulverized bark peeled from the roots)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cups light corn syrup
1 tablespoons butter
1 well-buttered large glass baking dish or cookie sheet, with a rim of inch or more

Lightly scrub roots in cold water to remove any residual dirt, then peel the bark off the root pieces with a knife or carrot peeler. Bring the water to a low boil and (optional: throw the peeled roots in and simmer them for awhile to give the water a little preliminary flavor and color boost).

In the meantime, put the peeled root bark in a food processor and pulverize it until the root is ground up quite fine. You should have at least 1/2 cup of pulverized bark pieces when you're done (less will result in a less intense flavor in the candy).

Pull out root pieces (if any) from the simmering water and add the remaining ingredients 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 pulverized root bark and mix well. The mixture will sizzle and drop in temperature about 20-30 degrees as the moisture in the root bark boils off.

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.

Quarreling Recipe
1 root of sassafras
1 quart water

Take 1 root of sassafras and boil in 1 quart of water for 20-30 minutes. Put in a bottle and when your hubby comes home to quarrel, fill your mouth full and hold until he goes away. Granny said it was a "sure cure."



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