Smoking Meats with Sassafras Wood

July 10, 2011
by Curt

Sassafras trees grow from 30 to 59  feet tall and spreading 25 to 39 feet. The trunk grows 28 to 59 inches in diameter, with many slender branches, and smooth, orange-brown bark. The bark of the mature trunk is thick, red-brown, and deeply furrowed. The wood is light, hard, and sometimes brittle. All parts of the plants are very fragrant.

Did you know? Root beer was originally made using the root of a sassafras plant (or the bark of a sassafras tree) as the primary flavor. Sassafras is the “root” in root beer.

Did you know? Sassafras tea is made from the leaves or roots of the sassafras tree.

Did you know? The oil extracted from the sassafras tree is used in aromatherapy, lending a spicy scent to candles, soap and perfumes.

Filé powder, also called gumbo filé, is a spice made from dried and ground sassafras leaves (or derived from sassafras bark). It is used in the making of some types of gumbo, a Creole and Cajun soup/stew. It is sprinkled sparingly over gumbo as a seasoning and a thickening agent, giving it a distinctive, earthy flavor and texture. Filé can provide thickening when okra is not in season.

When it comes to smoking meat, regional customs and preferences play a large role in determining what is acceptable or unacceptable. While some say that sassafras wood is not suitable for smoking meat, others claim it as their favorite.

The wood of the sassafras tree produces musky, mild, sweet smoke that is especially well-suited for smoking beef, pork and poultry. Some say they can taste a hint of root beer in sassafras-smoked meat.

So, grab a chunk, light it up, and see what you think!

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