Sassafras Root Beer

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It’s not every day that you use a potentially illegal substance to cook. Sassafras(Sassafras albidum) is the key ingredient to make root beer, but at the same time, it’s also used to produce ecstasy and MDA. The Sassafras tree is native to the Eastern United States. Despite the many controversies behind it, it’s no secret that Sassafras is a healing plant. In fact, it has been used for thousands of years by Native American tribes for its medicinal properties. To find out more about Sassafras tree, read our article Sassafras, An Illegal Substance That Grows Wild in Our Back Yards.

Sassafras is a very versatile plant. Every part of the plant is flavorful but each part of the plant has uniquely distinct flavors. The roots are the main ingredient for our recipe today. Hence the name, root beer. Sassafras root is used for its unique flavor and fragrance, giving the traditional root beer a flavor that is still mimicked today in commercial root beer soda.

Ingredients (Makes about 8-10 cups)
Several Sassafras roots from the saplings, about ¼-inch thick and cut into ½-inch pieces (should fill around ¾ to 1 cup)
½ teaspoon anise or fennel seeds
2 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
4 allspice berries
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses
8 cups soda/seltzer water

Scrub the roots under running water to get rid of any dirt. cut up the roots to make ½-inch pieces. Make sure root bark is not removed and remains on the sassafras when cooking.

Fill a pot with 4 cups of water and place the roots inside. Then, add the anise seeds, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice berries. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes.

Pour in the molasses and stir the mixture thoroughly. Let the mixture simmer for 5 more minutes.
Turn off the heat and strain the mixture through a mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Clean the pot and then pour the liquid back into the pot.

Pour in the sugar and heat the mixture until just a simmer. Stir and make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool.

Fill a glass of your choice with ice cubes. Then, pour in the syrup along with the soda water in a 1:2 ratio. Serve immediately.


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