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Gourmet Sleuth

File powder

Other names: filé powder, gumbo file, ground sassafras leaves

File (pronounced [FEE-lay]) powder is one of the key ingredients in making gumbo and has a distinctive "root beer" flavor. File powder is made from the dried ground leaves of the sassafras tree. They were believed to have been first used by the Choctaw Indians from Louisiana bayou region.Today the powder is used to both thicken and flavor gumbo.

You can find file powder in the seasoning section of most well-stocked grocery stores. Use up withing 6 months for best flavor and potency.
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Substitute for file powder

For thickening substitute okra (typically included in Gumbo) OR cornstarch (as a thickener without the root-beer like flavor)


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