Homemade File’ Powder   8 comments

If you like New Orleans style File’ Gumbo, you’re going to enjoy homemade File’ Powder.  It’s fun, easy, quick, soooooo delightfully fragrant and wonderfully tasty!  File’ is a key seasoning and thickening ingredient in Cajun and Creole cooking. Its characteristic woodsy flavor is reminiscent of root beer; the olive-green powder is made from dried, pulverized leaves of the  Sassafras albidum, tree, which can be found throughout much of the Eastern U.S.

 Sassafras means green twig; hence the name.   I love to snap off a young (meristem) twig, to chew, while I gather leaves.  It makes a grand, natural, organic, delicious, free toothbrush and breath freshener.

Sassafras flowers bloom in April; while the leaves are still tiny.

 Mature trees grow between 10 and 50 feet, turn reddish to brown, and become grooved.

The leaves can be gathered throughout the Spring and most of the Summer months; until they begin to turn.

Sassafras’ toothless leaves grow up to about 9 inches long, in 4 different shapes, an oval, a 3 lobed, and a left or right hand mitten; usually, all on the same tree!

Remember to rinse them well in cold water; and remove any hitch hikers.  I like to cut up the leaves before I dry them.  It gives me an additional chance to look them over and it hastens the drying time.

When the leaves are dry, I crush them with my fingers (my favorite, fragrant step in the process!) and store the seasoning in a glass jar. It’s just that easy!

Or you can go to the store and buy, who knows how old, from who knows where, File’ Powder, for around $5 an ounce.


The first week, or so, I cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth to allow air-flow and keep out dust.  I may be over cautious, but, I’ve never had anything turn moldy!

Sprinkled sparingly, just before serving, File’ Powder turns plain soup into a savory delight and makes a wonderful gift for your favorite, adventurous gourmet chefs.

 “Unlike sassafras roots, sassafras leaves do not contain a detectable amount of safrole.” (1)

 L’chiam! I am so grateful for this wonderful bounty.  Hey Nickety!

 Thanx for stopping by.  See you soon.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fil%C3%A9_powder

For more Sassafras info and photos please see: https://forageporage.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/suffrin-sassafras/

For fabulous Sassy muffins:


For a great File’ Gumbo recipe check out:



8 responses to “Homemade File’ Powder

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  1. Pingback: Suffrin’ Sassafras! « Forageporage's Blog

  2. Sassafras shoots are indeed green. When my grandfather was a lad (this would have been around 1920), he was at a church picnic. All the boys were impressing the girls by taking out their pocket knives, cutting sassafras shoots, and chewing on the sticks. One girl turned around and found that her five year-old brother had caught a green snake – same color as the sassafras. He was holding it with two hands and was chewing on the middle section between his two cinched fists. The snake was writhing madly and spurting blood all over his church clothes. His sister screamed. He thought the big boys were chewing on snakes. True story!

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  5. Reblogged this on Forageporage's Blog and commented:

    It’s Sassafras time. . . oh, the smell of it!

  6. We have several young sassafras trees so I will gather and dry some leaves for seasoning soups. Thanks!

    • I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I’m going to try making tea with the dried leaves. Then there would be no safrole concern; as with the roots. Will let you know how it turns out!

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