Processing Wild Staghorn Sumac
Wild Staghorn Sumac can be found in most of North America however it is more concentrated in plains of the United States. Staghorn sumac, or Rhus typhina, is easily identified by the red fruit clusters resembling an Olympic torch, or the velvety antlers of a male deer (stag), hence the name of “staghorn.”
Unlike Poison Sumac, Staghorn Sumac is not poisonous and the berries are jam-packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin A. It has a citrusy tart flavor and can be used in a variety of ways.
The best time to harvest is late summer-fall. You'll know when the clusters are ready by simply grabbing the cluster or squeezing the berries and then taste your fingers. If it tastes like lemons it's ready to harvest.
One of the more popular ways to use Staghorn Sumac is to make "Indian-ade" or "pink drink". Simply harvest the berry clusters, rinse and place the entire clusters (fresh or dried) in mason jars or I use my sun-tea pitcher (fill to the top), fill with clear water and set in the sun for an afternoon. Add honey, maple syrup, stevia, or raw sugar to taste and it's the best summer drink you'll ever have. Store in the fridge however it will go fast!
Dried berries can also be added to hot tea to aid with sore throats or to give your immune system a boost.
In addition to making a tasty drink I dry the berry clusters and then process them to use as seasoning. I love to add Sumac to any egg dish, quiche, salads, fish, lamb, or pork. It adds a tangy flavor and will bring an amazing level to your recipes.
Drying and processing can be time consuming but it's so worth it. I process this in a few hours and catch up on podcasts or audio books at the same time.
Full video instruction here https://youtu.be/yWtzIyw_wdw
After harvesting rinse the berry clusters to remove dust and any insects and allow to dry.
Dry using a dehydrator, oven on the lowest setting, or in dry climates you can sun dry by using a screen or netting.
Once the berries are dry it's time to get them from the stems. I do so by hand and any stem/clusters that are difficult to separate I set aside to use in future "pink drinks" or "Indian-ade". It's okay if some small stems are not taken out, they won't have any effect on the flavor and are edible as well.
Once you've separated the berries from their stems place in a food processor fitted with a steal blade and pulse about 20-30 seconds. This removes the husk from the seed (the seeds have zero flavor).
Sift your processed Sumac through a sifter. I use a large cheese strainer and use a pestle and my hands to work it through. This is time consuming but totally worth it, I promise.
Store your processed sumac in jars or airtight containers.
Let me know what you think in the comments or tell me what you love Sumac best with.
Bama pi! (Until later)