Today we are going to take staghorn sumac and make a refreshing drink often called “sumac-aide” Thats hard to say so I just call it Sumac Lemonaide.
Sumacs grow throughout the world with Staghorn Sumac (Rhus Hirta- Rhus Glabra) is the most common.
While we don’t use it as a spice here in North America, sumac “stags” are used as a traditional spice in many cultures in the middle east. If you dry and grind staghorn sumac you will find it has a tangy flavor that is often used with grilled meats and fish.
I imagine you could proabably even use this as a wine base, if it works for dandelions, I bet it would be awesome with sumac.
While one should eat wild food without first consulting a pictorial guide and/or an expert, it is very easy to distinguish staghorn sumac from poison sumac. The color of the leaves is the biggest distinguishing characteristic.
Poison sumac has large white berries and only grows in wet areas – it is pretty rare.
Staghorn sumac has small red berries and is found all along country (and not so country) roads.
Besides being a very cheap drink that tastes a lot like pink lemonade at a FRACTION of the cost it has some health benefits. It is a good source of Vitamin C. So preppers can use it to prevent scurvy. It also has Malic acid, calcium malate, Dihydrofisetin, Fisetin, Iodine, Gallic Acid, Tannic acid, Selenium, and Tartaric acid.
It has long been used as a folk medicine and has been the subject of research in modern medicine.
As far as a recipe – Its pretty much all to taste and pretty simple.
How to Make Sumac Lemonade
- Sumac Berries
- Sugar (to taste)
- Don’t pick the Sumac cones after rain since the flavor comes from the sap on the outside of the berries.
- Remove as much leaves and twigs as possible. The more stems the more tannic acid you will get.
- Place the Sumac berries in a container filled with fresh cold water. You’d want about 1 cup of water for each cone.Warm water will make your drink bitter.
- Crush the berries with your hands.Let rest for about 30-60 minutes depending on how strong of a flavor you want.
- Strain using a cheesecloth
- Sweeten to your liking. Serve cold with ice. Personally while I have to have sugar in my tea I don’t feel that sumac-aide needs sweeteners.
I like Sumac Lemonade, I think it tastes good. Additionally, it is easy to make. During a disaster, it is a good source of vitamin C to prevent scurvy and other diseases.