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Sassafras vs. Sarsaparilla

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I want to experiment with a root beer-type flavor, but I don't want to use artificial flavors.  From doing research, I know that root beer can be flavored with a number of spices, but the distinctive flavor generally comes from sassafras or sarsaparilla.

I am wondering if anyone out there has experience working with either?  

It seems sassafras specifically needs to be manufactured without safrole to be FDA approved.  Now, filé is made from the leaves, but sassafras oil is made from the roots.  Is the flavor of the two quite different?  Because I see sassafras tea available locally, but I wonder if that would give me the flavor I want or if I should special order the root extract.

post #2 of 4

I'd order the root extract. That's probably why it's called "root" beer.

post #3 of 4

I wonder how much of the root beer taste we associate with now, is really from sassafras/sasparilla. There is a lot of stuff in there. I think it's due to mainly a combo of licorice/anise type flavor, mint, and some warm spices.

post #4 of 4

I googled root beer recipes and you can find a lot of info on root beer that way. Here's a list of some of the flavorings in root beer:

In addition to sassafras flavor, root beer often has other flavorings, including anise, burdock, cinnamon, dandelion, ginger, juniper, spikenard / sarsaparilla, vanilla, wintergreen, and / or yellow dock and sweetened with aspartame, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses, and, most commonly sugar.  Although originally carbonated with yeast, most modern root beer brands are artificially carbonated.  Most brands of root beer contain sodium benzoate as a preservative.
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