Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees
Plant Family: Lauraceae
Sassafras is a sturdy tree found in the bayous of Louisiana. When the tree is young, its leaves are shaped like "mittens," sometimes with two "thumbs." As the tree matures, sometimes reaching a height of 100 feet (30 meters) and a trunk diameter of up to 6 feet (200 cm), the leaves grow more rounded, free of indentation. Cajun cuisine uses sassafras leaf to make file (FEE-lay), the seasoning and thickening agent for gumbo. The early Cajuns learned to use file' from the Choctaw Indians of the Gulf coast, who evidently used it to thicken soups.
Alpha-pinene, anethole, apiole, asarone, beta-sitosterol, boldine, caryophyllene, elemicin, eugenol, mucilage, myristicin, reticule, safrene, safrole, tannins, thujone.
The leaf is primarily used to thicken and to season. It should be simmered gently, and never boiled. For convenience it may be used as a tea.
Sassafras leaf is traditionally used as a thickening and flavoring agent in Gumbo, as well as other Cajun sauces and soups. The leaves have a lightly spicy and a pleasant aromatic scent and flavor. The fresh young leaves are used in salads.
Specific: Not for use in pregnancy except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner. Not for long-term use.
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