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Sommaq, Sumac, Sumak


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#61 sparrowgrass

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 12:01 PM

It may be more pleasant if you strain the sumac-ade after you steep the berries. The berries are kind of hairy. Not to mention that critters live in the clusters.
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#62 Abra

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 12:59 PM

How about if you only have dried ground sumac? I've never heard of sumac lemonade, but I love sumac and would like to try it. No berries here, though.

#63 doviakw

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 01:23 PM

How about if you only have dried ground sumac?  I've never heard of sumac lemonade, but I love sumac and would like to try it.  No berries here, though.

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Fresh sumac berries have a sticky, acidic exudate that is soluble in water. This part is what give sumac "lemonade" its citrusy flavor. Don't pick the berries from trees that grow by roadsides because the sticky stuff picks up road grime and exhaust particles.

I've never seen fresh sumac berry clusters for sale anywhere so you will probably need to find yourself a tree. Make SURE that it is sumac with RED berry clusters that you pick. Other sumac varieties are poisonous.

[Edited to add this link for further reference.]

Edited by doviakw, 18 May 2007 - 01:41 PM.


#64 ChefCrash

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 11:03 PM

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.

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I have always wnted to know the rilght way tomake zaattar, thanks!

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Zaatar is a plant (Majorana syriaca) - traditionally the leaves are used as a seasoning. There are countless blends of spices that people use for a similar taste, but the right way to make zaatar is to use zaatar leaves.

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There is a reason every recipe on the net for "zaatar", calls for "Thyme" (also a plant). Zaatar is an Arabic word, and translates to "Thyme" in most Arabic/English dictionaries.

I've been making my Zaatar from a bush I planted 15 years ago. It was labeled "Oregano" when I bought it. Its fuzzy leaves, smell, and resemble the wild Thyme found all over southern Lebanon and Palestine.

As for you not being able to find decent Zaatar around here, I say that crappy Zaatar can be had anywhere. You can start out with the best "Zaatar" plant, but if it's not dried and pounded properly, and mixed with the freshest sumac and toasted sesame seeds in the right ratios with just enough salt, and if it's not fresh, it's going to taste like saw dust.

So what is English for "Majorana syriaca"?

#65 The Blissful Glutton

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 05:04 AM

I just had a lovely salad in Paris at a Lebanese restaurant that used sumac in the vinaigrette. It was loosely-based on fatoush.

#66 Naftal

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 06:25 AM

How about if you only have dried ground sumac?  I've never heard of sumac lemonade, but I love sumac and would like to try it.  No berries here, though.

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I am wondering about this too, all the trees in my area are by roadsides. Does anyone know if/how dried ground sumac is used in this? Could I use it the way I use any loose tea :wacko:

Edited by Naftal, 19 May 2007 - 06:26 AM.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#67 Naftal

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 07:43 AM

:laugh:

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.

View Post

I have always wnted to know the rilght way tomake zaattar, thanks!

View Post


Zaatar is a plant (Majorana syriaca) - traditionally the leaves are used as a seasoning. There are countless blends of spices that people use for a similar taste, but the right way to make zaatar is to use zaatar leaves.

View Post


There is a reason every recipe on the net for "zaatar", calls for "Thyme" (also a plant). Zaatar is an Arabic word, and translates to "Thyme" in most Arabic/English dictionaries.

I've been making my Zaatar from a bush I planted 15 years ago. It was labeled "Oregano" when I bought it. Its fuzzy leaves, smell, and resemble the wild Thyme found all over southern Lebanon and Palestine.

As for you not being able to find decent Zaatar around here, I say that crappy Zaatar can be had anywhere. You can start out with the best "Zaatar" plant, but if it's not dried and pounded properly, and mixed with the freshest sumac and toasted sesame seeds in the right ratios with just enough salt, and if it's not fresh, it's going to taste like saw dust.

So what is English for "Majorana syriaca"?

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:laugh: I googled some terms- zaater, thyme and oregano are all used interchangably. Consider the following:majoranum syriaca(whose other scientific names are: origanum cyriacum and origanum maru and origanum syriacum) is known in English as bible hyssop, or as syrian oregano. Thymus capitatus, thymbra spicata, coridothymus capitatus and satureia capitata are all refered to as different varieties of either zaatar,or hyssop, or thyme. For example: thymbra spicata is called zatar hommar or donkey hyssop,whereas thymus capitatus is known as zaatar farsi,conehead thyme, maritime thyme and persian hyssop:cool:

Edited by Naftal, 19 May 2007 - 08:02 AM.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#68 melkor

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 08:13 AM

There is a reason every recipe on the net for "zaatar", calls for "Thyme" (also a plant).  Zaatar is an Arabic word, and translates to "Thyme" in most Arabic/English dictionaries.

I've been making my Zaatar from a bush I planted 15 years ago. It was labeled "Oregano" when I bought it. Its fuzzy leaves, smell, and resemble the wild Thyme found all over southern Lebanon and Palestine.

As for you not being able to find decent Zaatar around here, I say that crappy Zaatar can be had anywhere. You can start out with the best "Zaatar" plant, but if it's not dried and pounded properly, and mixed with the freshest sumac and toasted sesame seeds in the right ratios with just enough salt, and if it's not fresh, it's going to taste like saw dust.

So what is English for "Majorana syriaca"?

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English for Majorana Syriaca is Syrian marjoram - it's also called Syrian oregano, but I haven't seen it called thyme. Crappy Zaatar can indeed be found anywhere, that you make yours using leaves from the 'correct' plant no doubt makes it taste better (or more authentic anyway).

#69 Naftal

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 09:53 PM

Does anyone else have a favorite use for this wonderful spice? :wub: i love the taste of sumac but I have few occasions to use it :sad:

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#70 Naftal

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 09:59 PM

How about if you only have dried ground sumac?  I've never heard of sumac lemonade, but I love sumac and would like to try it.  No berries here, though.

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I am wondering about this too, all the trees in my area are by roadsides. Does anyone know if/how dried ground sumac is used in this? Could I use it the way I use any loose tea :wacko:

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We are really curious about this... :huh:

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#71 Smithy

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 10:33 AM

How about if you only have dried ground sumac?  I've never heard of sumac lemonade, but I love sumac and would like to try it.  No berries here, though.

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Fresh sumac berries have a sticky, acidic exudate that is soluble in water. This part is what give sumac "lemonade" its citrusy flavor. Don't pick the berries from trees that grow by roadsides because the sticky stuff picks up road grime and exhaust particles.

I've never seen fresh sumac berry clusters for sale anywhere so you will probably need to find yourself a tree. Make SURE that it is sumac with RED berry clusters that you pick. Other sumac varieties are poisonous.

[Edited to add this link for further reference.]

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Thanks for that link! I had no idea that the sumac that populates northern Minnesota is edible. Here I've been buying ground sumace at the Middle Eastern store, when I could have been making my own harvest. The link really helps set my mind at ease that I can distinguish between the poison "sumac" and the real deal.

Abra, that link suggests there might be an edible variety of sumac up your way. It's been too long since my last visit to Washington for me to be sure, but it seems I used to see it up there.

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#72 baroness

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 12:51 PM

I like it sprinkled on green/tossed salads containing citrus fruit.

#73 lemniscate

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 01:10 PM

When I was a kid, a guy named Euell Gibbons came out with a book on how to eat "nature". I was fascinated and I think I found the recipe for sumac lemonade in his book. Edible sumac grew all along our riverbed, as did elderberries. I made sumac lemonade several times. I remember boiling the berries and then adding lots of sugar. The berries are furry, the little furs will float in the water so straining the solution makes it more palatable. IIRC, it was alot like lemonade, we kids liked it.

#74 piazzola

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 06:17 AM

If I am not mistaken there are two types of sumac ( well at least in Russia) and inGeorgia they make this wornderful smelly hunelly spice mix widely used in Georgian and Ossetian cooking.

#75 Naftal

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 11:32 AM

If I am not mistaken there are two types of sumac ( well at least in Russia) and inGeorgia they make this wornderful smelly hunelly spice mix widely used in Georgian and Ossetian cooking.

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Please tell me more :biggrin:

Edited by Naftal, 11 June 2007 - 11:32 AM.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#76 Carrot Top

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 06:51 AM

Does anyone else have a favorite use for this wonderful spice?      :wub:      i love the taste of sumac but I have few occasions to use it :sad:

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There are two really good recipes that include sumac in Claudia Roden's "Arabesque": Bread Salad with Sumac (Fattoush) and Chicken Pie with Onions and Sumac (Musakhan).

There is advice that the chicken pie filling (which includes lots of caramelized onions, sumac, cinnamon, cardmom and lemon) can also be put in a pita and eaten.

#77 milkman

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 07:19 AM

There are several recipes using sumac in the Moro Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark: courgette, pinenut and herb omelette; feta, spinach and pinenut salad; seared sirloin salad with barley and grapes; and grilled marinated swordfish.

I particularly like the seared sirloin salad.

#78 Naftal

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 08:13 AM

Way to go :biggrin: These are the kinds of things I am looking for.
Does anyone know how to make hunelly(a spice mix)?

Edited by Naftal, 12 June 2007 - 08:14 AM.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#79 Peter the eater

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 08:42 AM

The sumac I know is a spindly shrub that grows wild along the road and in open forested areas. Its most remarkable feature is a brilliant red leaf in autumn.

Is this the same plant you all are talking about? If so which part - leaf, bark, root, sap?
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#80 melkor

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 08:47 AM

The sumac I know is a spindly shrub that grows wild along the road and in open forested areas. Its most remarkable feature is a brilliant red leaf in autumn.

Is this the same plant you all are talking about? If so which part - leaf, bark, root, sap?

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Berries.

#81 Carrot Top

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 09:47 AM

From Wildfoods- Trees, Uses

The Sumac is a large shrub that commonly grows along roadsides, in abandoned pastures, and on the edges of forests. Sumac belongs to the Rhus family which also includes poison ivy, poisonoak, and about 100 species of other trees and shrubs. Three species of sumac are common throughout the south. These are Winged Sumac (Rhus copaliina); Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)' and Poison Sumac (Rhus vernix). The leaves of the Winged and Staghorn Sumac are similar. The leaves are alternate, deciduous, and odd-pinnately compound, with 9 to 31 leaflets. The berries are small, nearly round, about 1/8 inch in diameter, with a hard pit and a thin layer of dry flesh clothed in a dense coat of crimson colored, sour hairs. The fruit clusters are often persistent throughout the winter and are a key characteristic of the speices.

Only the red berries from the Winged and the Staghorn Sumac can be used. The white berries of Poison Sumac and Poison Ivy are very poisonous and should be avoided at all costs. Be absolutely certain that you are using the red berries on the non-toxic species.

Several Native American tribes used berries from Sumac for various uses. Some common names were: Kiowa name: maw-kho-la (tobacco mixture); Dakota name: chan-zi (yellow wood); Winnebago name: haz-ni-hu (water-fruit bush). Several parts of the shrub were used medicinally; roots for dye; stems for basketry; leaves as tannin for tanning leather and dried leaves for smoking mixtures; berries as tea; roots, shoots, berries as food. Sumac berries found in human remains from a bluff shelter in the Ozarks dated back to a least 3,000 years ago.



#82 BarbaraY

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 04:43 PM

The sumac I know is a spindly shrub that grows wild along the road and in open forested areas. Its most remarkable feature is a brilliant red leaf in autumn.

Is this the same plant you all are talking about? If so which part - leaf, bark, root, sap?

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Be careful of this plant unless you have someone reassure you that it is the right one. Sounds awful lot like Poison Sumac which is like poison ivy and no fun at all.

Edited to add that I sort of skimmed over Carrot tops post. Sorry

Edited by BarbaraY, 15 June 2007 - 04:45 PM.


#83 sazji

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 03:53 PM

The staghorn sumac in the US does have a sour taste, but it is a different species that is used in the Middle East. (I could look up the species but I'm too lazy...) The berries of the American one are fuzzy; the ones here are quite a bit larger and when packed, are sticky/gummy. They are sour without being nearly as astringent. We made "sumac lemonade" from staghorn sumac and could hardly drink it; but the drink made from sumac here is really very nice - just a hint of that astringency.
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#84 Naftal

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 04:14 PM

The staghorn sumac in the US does have a sour taste, but it is a different species that is used in the Middle East. (I could look up the species but I'm too lazy...) The berries of the American one are fuzzy; the ones here are quite a bit larger and when packed, are sticky/gummy. They are sour without being nearly as astringent. We made "sumac lemonade" from staghorn sumac and could hardly drink it; but the drink made from sumac here is really very nice - just a hint of that astringency.

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Is the sumac sold in Middle Eastern stores in the U.S. the American or the Middle Eastern variety :hmmm: ?

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#85 melkor

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 07:43 PM

The staghorn sumac in the US does have a sour taste, but it is a different species that is used in the Middle East. (I could look up the species but I'm too lazy...) The berries of the American one are fuzzy; the ones here are quite a bit larger and when packed, are sticky/gummy. They are sour without being nearly as astringent. We made "sumac lemonade" from staghorn sumac and could hardly drink it; but the drink made from sumac here is really very nice - just a hint of that astringency.

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Is the sumac sold in Middle Eastern stores in the U.S. the American or the Middle Eastern variety :hmmm: ?

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Depends on your Middle Eastern store I'd imagine.

#86 kristin_71

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 12:18 PM

Penzy's also sells zaatar, which is good to know in the winter when fresh herbs are less than available. I always use sumac in fatoosh zaatar on bread when baking. Really good hot out of the oven with some labne and maybe some really good olives. :biggrin:

#87 zora

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 09:50 AM

To follow up on that way-back comment/query about sumac lemonade: I had some of this when I was just in Istanbul (oh, Ciya, I love you!), and it was quite nice, though not quite as zingy as I would've liked. Sounds like Sazji would know better, but I think you just steep the whole sumac berries like you would a tea, and then add sugar. It has a great pink flavor.

I got myself some whole sumac while in Turkey, so maybe I can make myself a stronger version.

On the zaatar tip, one of the 8 million delicious things I just ate in Syria was a salad of zaatar, soft cheese and tomato. I was a little perplexed when it came to the table, because the zaatar element looked exactly like chopped-up rosemary...but then tasted more like oregano. It was a pretty intense salad.

A trip to the farmers market, and reading a little of this thread, I now see that's what we call hyssop, the something-or-other spicata variety. Anyway, it was interesting to see zaatar used (in Arabic, not just random translation) to describe this plant as well. Looking at all the overlapping varieties of thyme/oregano/marjoram/zaatar/hyssop makes me feel a little dizzy.
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#88 ChefCrash

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 05:27 PM

Sounds like you had a great trip.
Wish you would tell us more about what you ate in Syria. Are hard boiled egg sandwiches still popular street food in Damascus?


The Zaatar you ate is referred to as "Zaatar Farsi" translates to Persian Zaatar. It's used in salads and is also pickled. It's very much (if not the same as) like Summer Savory.

#89 zora

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 08:26 AM

I'll pull my notes together and start a separate Syria spread. We didn't get to Damascus this time, but I can say I didn't spot any egg sandwiches in Aleppo. Which is a real shame, because hard-boiled-egg sandwiches are one of my favorite things!

Yikes. Savory. Just one more thing to add to the mix. Interesting that you say zaatar farsi gets pickled, because my husband thought the stuff was like the pickled caperberry bush (or what he _thought_ was caperberry bush) he ate a lot in Greece. Later we talked to a woman in a Greek health food store, and she told him it was something else...but not any word we knew that mapped with zaatar. Now I wonder if it's all hyssop. Can someone draw a Venn diagram of this somehow?
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#90 Naftal

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 10:25 AM

Thanks all. This is just the kind of discussion I was looking forward to when I started this whole thread :cool:

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)