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-   -   Sassafras flavor / alternatives (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f95/sassafras-flavor-alternatives-317718/)

FlyingDutchman 04-01-2012 04:26 AM

In all my searching, I have yet to find a good answer to this one (maybe there isn't one). Most of the time these questions just digress into the carcinogenic (or perceived lack thereof) effects of safrole. I am not going to go into my reasoning. Let's just say, for the sake of this thread, that there is NO WAY anyone is going to convince me to use Sassafras so if all you are going to do is try to convince me it is safe, please don't post because I would like to keep this on topic.

That being said, is there any way to describe the flavor of sassafras and what alternatives are there - besides extracts and wintergreen since I have heard it is not really a good substitute but rather a different flavor profile.

Again, this thread is NOT ABOUT THE SAFETY OF USING SASSAFRAS. I am looking for alternatives, not anecdotal evidence of its safety.


dwarven_stout 04-01-2012 05:47 AM

Sassafras is what I use. I'm not scurred.

dwarven_stout 04-01-2012 08:01 PM


Originally Posted by FlyingDutchman (Post 3951077)
Again, this thread is NOT ABOUT THE SAFETY OF USING SASSAFRAS. I am looking for alternatives, not anecdotal evidence of its safety.

You've already discarded the alternatives, so there's really nothing to discuss.

If you're interested in scientific evidence of the safety of sassafras, that exists. It sounds like you aren't interested though. If you're scared about getting cancer from sassafras, I'll point out that many other foods contain the same chemical (e.g. basil or pepper).

FlyingDutchman 04-02-2012 08:26 PM

I would argue that there is plenty to discuss. It just seems that your compassion for attempting to prove safrole is safe has clouded your objectivity. I have not discarded any alternatives. In fact I offered an alternative and asked if it was truly an alternative. I am sorry if you did not read it that way and will try to ask it differently:

-I know wintergreen has been used as an alternative; however, I have heard this is not a good alternative but rather a different flavor. Is this the case or is it an exact substitute?
-If it is the case, why is sassafras still used?
-There has got to be some difference. What is it that makes people continue to come back to sassafras?
-If you had to describe the flavor without saying "It tastes like sassafras" how would you describe it?
-Does it taste like chicken?
-You mention safrole is contained in basil, black pepper, and I'd add nutmeg. These obviously do not taste at all similar, but is there a hint of some of these flavors in sassafras?

I realize this is a contemptable issue and that everyone thinks the government screwed the general public out of a wonderful flavoring component for absolutely no reason. Unfortunately that is not the case. I would be more than happy to hear about any SCIENTIFIC, quantifiable evidence that safrole is safe; I am first and foremost a scientist and if there are any objective studies out there that are reproducable I would love to be proven wrong. Until then all I have is "Absorption, metabolism and excretion of safrole in the rat and man" PMID: 14422. Which clearly spells out the dangers of safrole to the point that the FDA felt it necessary to step in and once again try to save us from ourselves.

THIS IS NOT THE THREAD FOR THAT THOUGH. I have made this point abundantly clear. PLEASE respect my wishes and the rules of this discussion board. DO NOT REPLY if you are only trying to hijack this thread and have nothing meaningful AND on topic to add.

It is interesting that someone can claim he/she do not naturally carbonate beverages for religious reasons and nobody tries to change his/her mind but rather engage in a perfectly civil discusion on the alternatives even though the proportion of ABV is inconcievably low. When it comes to a mutagenic substance that is persistent in the system in any quantity however, people will not accept that maybe there are individuals who prefer not to use it but still want to use natural ingredients. So how about we say this. I am opening a restaurant whose customers belong to a religious order that requires the use of all natural ingredients and are not allowed to use sassafras. (And please don't get me wrong, I am not trying to offend anyone, just trying to find answers to my questions)

Furthermore, this is a community of creative individuals; capable of coming up with new and unique methods. I know the majority here are not mindless robots that can only spout the same old rhetoric. Please, creative people, I know your out there.

MrFoodScientist 04-04-2012 06:29 PM

You might try this:

it claims to be safrole free. Yes there are ways to remove safrole. I don't know for sure, but I'd imagine it's a similar process to decaffeination of coffee.

In my opinion, wintergreen is not really even a close substitute. People think it's used as a one for one replacement, but I think that's a fallacy. (I have it on good authority that camphor however, is used as a substitute, but I wouldn't really go looking for that full strength either.) Wintergreen is used as a component to a root beer flavor, though. I believe that some people think root beer is just a single flavor like vanilla is a single flavor, but it's not. It's a complex blend of flavors, one of the notes of which can be wintergreen, one of which can be sassafrass.

I would also add that sarsparilla is a somewhat suitable substitute. I believe it's the closest thing you'll find to sassafrass, but to describe how they are different would be similar to how one might describe the difference between spearmint and peppermint, it's tough unless you're tasting them at the time you're describing it.

That being said, sarsparilla is somewhat more spicy, with some notes that I would describe as "fuzzy" for lack of a better term. It also has some vanilla-like notes that remind me more of an A&W style root beer. This was my dad's favorite, so that's what I grew up with as the quintessential root beer flavor.

Dstreetbrew 04-10-2012 09:20 PM

I would have to agree that Sarsaparlla would be a good sub for sassafras. I tried using wintergreen and did nt the like the flavor profile. I have made a few different batches some with and some with out sassafras never using more than a 1- 1 1/2 oz for a 5 gallon batch and to be honest you can not rely taste the difference. Use lots of sarsaparilla it makes a nice flavor. But I have not come apron anything that "taste" like sassafras. You best bet is to play around with different things and have fun with it. U may find something that you like, have fun with it.

duganderson 04-12-2012 01:10 AM

I would try Sarsaparlla, Wintergreen Root, and Licorice root and use at least 1/2 brown sugar for your sugar. That should give you a nice, complex and similar flavor. Good vanilla is nice in my opinion too.

Rigger103 04-16-2012 12:05 AM

WOW..........Nothing like asking a question then lecturing everyone on how to respond to the question......

Dstreetbrew 04-16-2012 06:59 PM

Yea kind of rude

dwarven_stout 04-17-2012 03:09 AM


Originally Posted by FlyingDutchman (Post 3955665)
I am first and foremost a scientist

Then you should be able to identify the scientific and methodological issues in that study that you cite.

Originally Posted by FlyingDutchman (Post 3955665)
It is interesting that someone can claim he/she do not naturally carbonate beverages for religious reasons and nobody tries to change his/her mind but rather engage in a perfectly civil discusion on the alternatives even though the proportion of ABV is inconcievably low.

Of course this has nothing to do with the fact that an easy, cheap, effective and virtually indistinguishable replacement for natural carbonation exists, which it does not for sassafras.

Yes, there are alternatives. No, none of them taste the same, and it sounds like you already know that. If your goal is to make a root beer that tastes like an old-fashioned sassafras brew, then you already know how to do that. If you absolutely won't use the stuff, then there are plenty of recipes out there that don't use it and won't taste like they do. It's just like vegetarians looking for a meat substitute- nothing is quite the same.

And finally, just because it's bugging the heck out of me:

Originally Posted by FlyingDutchman (Post 3955665)
...your compassion for attempting...
...this is a contemptable issue...

I'm not sure that those bolded words mean what you think they mean.

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