Sumac is one of my very favourite spices because it adds a nice bit of lemony flavour. I use it mainly in Middle Eastern dishes, for example this salad, or just sprinkled on top of some yogurt cheese or roasted cauliflower.
Only recently did I discover that we have sumac growing right here in Vancouver! And only a block away from my place I was able to find a tree to forage from. Sumac also grows in other parts of Canada and the United States, not to be confused with poison sumac (you really can’t mix these two up when you look at the pictures.)
Here are some links that can give you a bit more information. This one is from Ontario, and here is one from Vancouver about the “latest restaurant trend in spices,” (that’s 2015).
Now is the time to harvest, and maybe for the next few weeks as well.
This is one of the easiest recipes I will ever post. Harvest, boil water, pour the water over the sumac buds and let it sit for about 10 minutes. You can certainly sweeten it with honey or another sweetener, but I found it was tart but not too sour to drink without sweetener. It is really refreshing when served ice cold, and would probably make a nice base for a cocktail.
I’d love to hear about things you’ve done with foraged sumac – I’ve heard of making syrup, and drying the sumac, but I’ve not tried these. Please let me know if you have!