Thursday, July 14, 2011
Sumac Jelly anyone?
A few days ago I noticed the Sumac (I believe it to be Smooth Sumac) was loaded this year. I had heard that Sumac is edible so I immediately began to research and read up on the subject. Sure enough, a very refreshing drink can be made of the drupes (seed clusters) once they ripen to a nice deep red. The drink has a citrus flavor and is very high in Vitamin C.
Hmmm...interesting! I kept researching and learned that Sumac also makes a nice jelly. Now, I love to make jelly out of unusual things (kudzu and elderberry are two favorites, although our absolute favorite is dewberry jelly) so I most definitely plan to make some sumac jelly. I'm really looking forward to making some elderberry-sumac jelly as I've read that the sumac enhances the flavor of the elderberries. Yummy, sounds good to me!
From what I've learned, making sumac tea is easy. Pick the drupes when they are a deep red color. It might be wise to taste one to make sure they are flavorful as the flavor comes from the skin of the fruit and is easily washed away with rain. If you have flavorful fruit, steep it in cool water until the water is a nice color (you can do a taste test too). Strain through cheesecloth to remove the "hairs" of the fruit and the seed. Add sugar to taste, pour into a tall glass of ice and enjoy! It is supposed to be delicious.
The drupes also make a good spice for fish and chicken dishes. I need to do some more research on how to prepare it for spice. I know it is ground, but I'm not sure how it is processed.
As you can tell from the photo, my Sumac is not ready to be picked yet so I must have patience...a chore for me! However, after sharing my newfound knowledge with Don, he has agreed to stop bushhogging down the Sumac growing beside the driveway.
By the way, many people believe Sumac is poisonous. This is not the case. There is a Poison Sumac, but it grows in swampy areas and has white berries. Staghorn and Smooth Sumac prefer well drained soil and has dark red berries. The two are very easy to distinguish due to these two characteristics.