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Sumac!


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#1 Suvir Saran

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Posted 31 October 2002 - 03:54 PM

Sumac is the name of this beautiful bush that grows throughout the Middle East and also some parts of North Africa now. Well for that matter it is also propogated and found in Italy, Iran,Turkey and India. The berries are supposedly better if borne to bushes grown in the higher altitudes. The sourness supposedly comes out more intense in higher altitudes.

What I love most are to look at the red berries as the leaves turn color in autumn. Amazing sight for the eyes.. .and if you are like me and thinking of the culinary uses as well, you are in heaven.

The mounds of sumac berries drying in the open sun are most amazing of sights. There is little if any smell to these berries. But if you bite them they are sour. There is also a neutral aftertaste to them. No sharp quality.

I often will grill fish that has been rubbed with Sumac. It is a great way of cleansing the fish (for Sumac has famous astringent qualities) and then grilling the fish with a simple marinade. I do not use Curry Powder on fish, it is TOO bold for my taste. When I make Shammi Kebabs (Indian version of mince meat patties), I sprinkle sumac for adding a sour taste to the kebabs.

When I have been in cities or homes with no Amchoor (mango powder) or Tamarind, but Sumac, I have used it instead as the souring agent.

At Moustache on Bedford Street, they serve me onions with Sumac sprinkled on them. It is also a common garnish sprinkled on Yogurt served with Mezze.

It is an essential ingredient of Zahtar.

You can simply use Sumac to sour dishes as you would use lemon, tamarind, vinegar or amchoor.

#2 stellabella

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 09:26 AM

my yoga teacher was harvesting sumac berries [we're in georgia] and letting them soak overnight in cold spring water, to make tea. i'm pretty sure we're talking about the same sumac. the result was a very refreshing tart beverage, with, according to her, medicinal properties--i'm guessing from the tartness/acidity it is high in Vit. C.

#3 Suvir Saran

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 10:39 AM

my yoga teacher was harvesting sumac berries [we're in georgia] and letting them soak overnight in cold spring water, to make tea.  i'm pretty sure we're talking about the same sumac.  the result was a very refreshing tart beverage, with, according to her, medicinal properties--i'm guessing from the tartness/acidity it is high in Vit. C.

Yes we are talking of the same berries.
You can find Sumac growing where you live? Lucky you! :smile:

#4 Rushina

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Posted 25 January 2004 - 10:50 AM

are these the little red berries?

#5 sparrowgrass

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Posted 25 January 2004 - 11:16 AM

Suvir, sumac is common wild plant in the eastern half of the country. My kids liked sumac-ade when they were younger.
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#6 Adam Balic

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Posted 26 January 2004 - 03:22 AM

In several cookbooks I have seen Sumac being labeled as the same thing as Barberries. As far as I can tell they are seperate plants (both with sour red berries, although different flavour profiles). I wonder if anybody else has noticed this?

#7 ludja

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Posted 26 January 2004 - 11:05 AM

Silly question: How does sumac with edible berries compare to 'poison sumac'.

Sumac, (I think the 'poisonsous' kind) grows easily in CT. I'm not even sure which part is poisonous... :unsure:
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#8 Adam Balic

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Posted 29 January 2004 - 01:53 AM

Sumac is from the Rhus genus. Some of these plants are toxic and can cause contact irritation to the skin, plus breathing problems.

#9 bleudauvergne

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 01:30 PM

Sumac! I grew up in central new york and it grew all over the neighborhood. There were a couple of mothers (mine included) who pointed their fingers at the Dr. Seuss looking bushes with the bunches of red furry berries and said they were ripe. They decided to harvest it. All the kids in the neighborhood gathered it, and these mothers did what they knew best with it, made jelly. They also made drinks out of it. It was great!

My next brush with "sumac" was when I got this mix of stuff from what I think was a lebanese deli with an epicerie section. It came in a bag without much of a label. It was green, not red like the sumac I knew. It had a wonderful enigmatic taste and I assumed it was a mix of many things. The flavor could be best describes as a little lemony, but with this kind of basic quality (basic as opposed to acidic). Like oseille. The ingredient list said: sumac.

What was that? Was it green colored sumac?

I just loved to sprinkle it on smoked sheeps cheese toast. There was a shop that had this cheese and I happened across the mixture. Delicious.

:raz:

-Lucy

#10 Modern Day Hermit

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 11:54 AM

One of my favorite sumac applications is in plain white basmatic rice with butter, especially when I am having some feta cheese, pita breads and kabob.

I discovered sumac at one of my favorite turkish places and fell in love, the lovely lady who ran the shop thought I was a little off -- sprinkling it in my rice, haha.
--Jenn

#11 bbq4meanytime

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 12:22 PM

One of my favorite sumac applications is in plain white basmatic rice with butter, especially when I am having some feta cheese, pita breads and kabob.

I discovered sumac at one of my favorite turkish places and fell in love, the lovely lady who ran the shop thought I was a little off -- sprinkling it in my rice, haha.

Are you not supposed to sprinkle it on your rice? I had persian friend who used to blanket his rice with sumac like nor-easter dusting NY with snow in February. Then again maybe the turks do it differently?

#12 Modern Day Hermit

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 12:40 PM

Honestly, I am not sure what the proper technique is, I just do what tastes good. :biggrin:

It could have really been one of her personal preferences, I can't really say. It seemed like a very natural combination to me.
--Jenn

#13 theabroma

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 01:17 PM

Su

My next brush with "sumac" was when I got this mix of stuff from what I think was a lebanese deli with an epicerie section. It came in a bag without much of a label. It was green, not red like the sumac I knew. It had a wonderful enigmatic taste and I assumed it was a mix of many things. The flavor could be best describes as a little lemony, but with this kind of basic quality (basic as opposed to acidic). Like oseille. The ingredient list said: sumac.

What was that? Was it green colored sumac?

I just loved to sprinkle it on smoked sheeps cheese toast. There was a shop that had this cheese and I happened across the mixture. Delicious.

:raz:

-Lucy

I think it might have been a herb blend called za'atar, composed of thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. It's sprinkled over oiled pita breads and baked, and over foods as a condiment. And it does have a delightful lemony taste.

Theabroma
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The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

#14 sparrowgrass

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 02:44 PM

Poison Sumac is Toxicodendron vernix. It is the exception to the "leaves of three, let it be" rule--it has 7-10 leaflets. Unless you enjoy swamp slogging, don't worry about it too much--it grows in places most people don't go. It has white berries.

The sumacs with the edible berries are Rhus--Rhus copallina, Rhus aromatica, and several others. I have a big Rhus aromatic off the back porch--looks almost like poison ivy, but the leaves are not shiny, and the berries are red. And it smells good, but don't use that as a diagnostic tool--if you crush poison ivy leaves and hold them to your nose, you will be sorry.

If you remind me in the fall, I will mail sumac samples to anybody who wants them.
sparrowgrass

#15 nessa

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 08:21 PM

Question about dried sumac: When mixed with yogurt, will it cause the yogurt to become oh say, vivid pepto-bismol pink?
Did I use too much? Let it sit too long so that the color leached out? Or did my supplier sell me sumac with some kind of dye?
How can I avoid this? Do I need to simply add the sumac later so that there's no time for the red to bleed?
I was marinating some chicken in a yogurt/sumac marinade and my chicken turned this hideous pink. Tasted fine but......
Any insight, suggestions or laughter?


#16 sparrowgrass

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 06:05 AM

Sumac berries are red--sumac-ade is pink.

I have never cooked with the berries, but I can see that they might make your chicken pink.
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#17 nessa

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 06:22 AM

Oh goodness, Sumac-ade that sound deeeeeeeelish!
I'm going to have to try that!


#18 Adam Balic

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 06:24 AM

I have used the berries in cooking and they haven't resulted in any strange colours. Either it is s difference in the type of sumac or prepartion or the addition of dye in your lot, but why would you add dye?

#19 balmagowry

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 07:58 AM

Thread convergence! In American Indian tradition (sorry, don't know which tribes), sumac is called squaw bush and has all sorts of medicinal properties, as discussed in this thread....

#20 Adam Balic

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 08:07 AM

Squaw berries are sumac? Oh, that explains a lot.

Here is a recipe for Sumac wine.

Sumac wine

#21 nessa

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 08:19 AM

I have used the berries in cooking and they haven't resulted in any strange colours. Either it is s difference in the type of sumac or prepartion or the addition of dye in your lot, but why would you add dye?

I don't know why they would add dye unless they were trying to disguise something that wasnt sumac or that they didnt think was red enough. I don't see that as being likely, its not like sumac is hard to come by etc. I'm thinking this might just be a case of unexpected yet legit results? I put a heaping tablespoon of dried crushed sumac berries into one cup of yogurt and marinated chicken for about 10 hours in it. I can see how color from the berries would leach out, but this was like a magenta/pink/weird. I KNEW I should have taken a picture.
Maybe it just looked weird because it was mixing with the white yogurt.
I think next time I'll just do a sumac rub and forgo the yogurt.


#22 Adam Balic

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 08:26 AM

I can see how color from the berries would leach out, but this was like a magenta/pink/weird.

Nessa - I think that you need to get some professional advise, this magenta/pink/weirdness is obviously spreading. Run, run for you life!

#23 Naftal

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 07:42 AM

Yes...I use it in tahini and hoummus, I know it is good in falafal. But, other than that, how do you use this wonderful seasoning?

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#24 ChefCrash

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 09:46 AM

Hi Naftal

Zaatar is 1 part Thyme, 1 part sesame and a 1/4 part Sumac and salt to taste.

Sumac is used instead of lemon juice in Fattoush.

#25 Alisond

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 10:12 AM

My grandma makes sumac lemonaid. It's a very good beverage.

#26 BonVivantNL

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 02:43 PM

also works as a tenderiser. add some to a lamb marinade. try it on fish as well but don't leave it in too long.

#27 Shaya

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 04:36 PM

Persian chelo kabob.

#28 SeaGal

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 10:09 AM

I like to sprinkle it on pork chops, lamb and fish before grilling or broiling. I make oven fries with olive oil, garlic, S & P and sumac sprinkled on before roasting in a hot oven. It's also good on salads that have tomatoes, parsley and/or feta cheese in them.
Jan
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#29 boaziko

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 11:07 AM

On slices of (white) raw onion rings.

I use it a lot in salads and grilled meat skewers. (chicken and lamb)
"Eat every meal as if it's your first and last on earth" (Conrad Rosenblatt 1935)

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#30 scubadoo97

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 08:21 AM

I add it to my lahama jeen (sp ?) for a little tartness