Sept Harvest Challenge- Staghorn Sumac

I do chuckle a bit when I see ground sumac in the bulk barn for sale, in our local area, this is a plant that is found on field edges of the farmers fields and allow the ridges by river and creeks. its a forage plant for me only at this time, I have not yet dug out and transplanted a few plants into the food forest.


Most of ours are now getting past the prime and we have had some washing out due to two bouts of very heavy rains but they are still looking good an are reasonable for collection. I do not need to do much this year as I still have a good amount from last year in storage. if you want to add some of this to your pantry.. just have a drive in the fall in the Ottawa area and look for the amazing color change and or in the summer for the red flowers they tend to clump spread.

Taken from the above site, and they have more pages to read so use their link to read more.

Cooks from many countries, including Turkey, Italy, and Israel, have revered sumac berries (Rhus spp.) for more than a thousand years. And yet, the fruits are hardly something to make a meal or snack of; they are smaller than gooseberries, contain almost as much pit as fruit, and have very little fragrance. They aren’t even sweet! What sumac berries do have going for them is a brilliant brick-to purple-burgundy color, a tart and tangy taste, and a bushel full of therapeutic applications.

Soothing medicine

Sumac leaves and berries are classified as astringent and cooling. Certain Native American and Canadian Indian tribes used sumac to treat bladder, digestive, reproductive, and respiratory ailments; infections; injuries; stomachaches; arrow wounds; and more. The Chippewa Indians of North America made a decoction of sumac flowers to treat gas, indigestion, and other digestive upsets. The Iroquois used sumac as a laxative, diuretic, expectorant, liver aid, and in countless other applications. The powdered bark and dried berries were allegedly combined with tobacco and smoked during peace pipe ceremonies. The inner bark was also used to treat hemorrhoids.

Early pioneers used the berries to reduce fevers, and they steeped and strained the berries and thickened the mixture with honey to yield a soothing cough syrup. Some transformed the berries into wine. Others used the root to produce an emetic tea (to induce vomiting), the bark to make dye, and the leaves to relieve symptoms of asthma.

Sumac berries contain malic acid, which possess antifungal properties and putative anti-fibromyalgic activity; tannic acid, which is present in tea and wine and is known for its astringent activity; and gallic acid, a white crystalline compound used in dyes, in photography, and in ink and paper manufacture.

The vinegar tree

Prior to the importation of lemons in Europe, the ancient Romans allegedly relied on sumac berries for a sour taste. Throughout the Middle East, even today, many people use sumac as a seasoning and the primary souring agent in cooking or as a decorative garnish at the table. The berries are dried, lightly dry-roasted, ground to a powder, and sifted to remove the hard, inedible seeds and soft, downy fuzz. Fresh berries are soaked in water for fifteen to twenty minutes, or entire seed/berry heads (with attached fuzz) are pounded in water, then drained and squeezed through cheesecloth to extract their ruby juices and antioxidants. The powder keeps—far longer than lemons—-at room temperature; the juice may be refrigerated or frozen. A squeeze of sumac juice can replace lemon in your favorite recipes, particularly if you suffer from citrus allergies.

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2 Responses to Sept Harvest Challenge- Staghorn Sumac

  1. I was taught to always use Sumac bobs in the smoker when working on the bees…

    • Wow, just finished reading the whole article from PFAF… Such a HUGELY useful plant for SO many reasons!
      Love their colours: The fuzzy stems, the glorious burgundies to scarlet reds that graceful fronds of leaves turn in Fall; beautiful, useful stems of furry red fruit that feed us all year long: man, bird, beast or bee. The smell of the smoker wafting as we tend the hives…

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