Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisines have integrated the Sumac spice in many traditional dishes. Sumac is a reddish/velvet coarse spice with a tangy flavor that goes well with grilled fish, Zaatar (wild thyme herbal mix), grilled meats, salads etc… It is featured in some recipes including Zaatar and Fattoush Salad. Sumac ripens in summer and is then dried and ground to produce the spice.
I imagine that the sumac berries may be purchased as not all of us live a sumac growing area.
1Pick the sumac around August in order to make sure it is ripe.
Ripe sumac has a dark velvet color.
Also ensure that you don’t pick the Sumac cones immediately after rain since it tends to wash away the flavor.
2With your hands, remove the small Sumac berries from the stems and place them in a container filled with fresh cold water.
You’d want about 1 cup of water for each cone.
3Crush the berries with your hands for a couple of minutes, or you could alternatively put the mixture into a blender and let it blend away.
4Add berries to the water and let rest for about 30-60 minutes depending on how strong of a flavor you want.
5Strain using a cheesecloth, and sweeten to your liking. Serve cold with ice.
6Do not boil the Sumac cones, as that can produce a bitter taste.
However, soaking the Sumac cones in hot water can yield to a nice healthy tea.