last updated on : 01.16.2009 - Select Items Listed Your Satisfaction And Value Guaranteed
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Copyright:  Mike Sillett


1. Intro
2. Tools
3. Materials
4. Kitchen Equipment
5. Procedure

photo of a glass of cconcentrated staghorn sumac juice

1. Intro

Staghorn Sumac grows almost everywhere. It is one of my top ten edible wild food items that I forage for each year. I love foraging for wild edibles and especially love the fact that these pods of sumac are not only delicious but free.


  Like any food products, either commercially grown or gathered from the wild, one should ascertain whether they are allergic to that particular food product. Some individuals can not tolerate regular milk, shellfish, etc.
Some have terrible reactions to peanuts or peanut based products, and these are commercial foods my goodness.

  Sumac is not a commercially grown food product so trying this for the first time may or may not present a digestive or allergy problem. Try a small amount first and wait a day or two. Then a larger amount next time.

Having said that, I drink this all summer long. Huge glasses regularly. It's not exactly like lemonaide but it is mighty close.

My systems love it, my digestive system and my financial system that is. If I bought the amount of lemons it would take to make an equivalent amount of sumac 'Pink Lemonaide' there would be plenty of dollars spent.

This is FREE!
I love FREE stuff!

This method is reasonably easy if the equipment is on hand. The Sumac is free for the taking.

2. Tools

Pruning shears

Gathering the pods can make your hands all sticky from the juice that will be expended in handling the softer berries. The gloves will help.

3. Materials

Sumac pods - about 20 nicer sized ones

photo showing a few of the 20 pods I used to make almost a gallon of concentrated sumac juice.

Here are a few of the 20 pods I used to make almost a gallon of concentrated juice.

3. Kitchen Equipment

Muslin Bag ( a white sheet made into a bag or a pillowcase will do )

4. Procedure

Gather the Sumac pods in late summer, early fall.
If there is not a lot of rain in the fall you can even gather them all through the winter.

The important thing is to gather the Sumac pods from trees in areas not near heavily traveled roads or highways. You want to get clean pods from trees in some of the more out-of-the-way areas.

You will NOT be washing these so it's essential to start with clean pods.
The muslin bag straining at the end of it all will remove any dirt, grit, seed, stem and/or vermin residue.

Here's a close-up of what the berries look like after separated from the bracts.
These are the ones you will be using for making the juice.

photo of sumac berries separated from the bracts.	You can see the bracts on the left.

Berries separated from the bracts. You can see the bracts on the left.

Put the berries in the blender vessel so that they are reasonably compacted and about four inches from the top of the vessel
( the berries will float when water is added. You will need headroom).

Now look at the vessel and pick a spot that is about half way up to the level of the top of the berries - NOT half way to the top of the vessel or you will have used too much water.

If you use this'gauging' method you will always make it at the same concentration no matter how high the berry level is in the blender on each occasion.

Add COLD water, not hot. From the tap is fine.
There's a lot of vitamin C in Sumac, that's what makes it acidic and nutritious like lemons, and you'll lose most of it with hot water.
In addition, hot water will leach out some of the bitterness from the stems and seeds that were mangled/abused by the blender blades.

photo showing the filling of the blender vessel.

Filling the blender vessel.

After letting the blender run a bit, couple of minutes maybe, shake it up, change settings, play with the buttons, etc.
After a bit the berries will be good and liquified.

Pour the contents into a fine strainer/colander and let strain into a bowl. The photo shows two strainers/colanders but that's not necessary.
The 'finer' strainer IS necessary.

Let it strain 'on it's own'. Don't force the mixture through the strainer, you'll just need to strain again.

photo showing use of the fine strainer to separate the bits and pieces from the juice

Use the fine strainer to separate the bits and pieces from the juice.

You can strain the juice with the strainer a couple of times if you want to but it's not necessary.
I usually do it twice then rely on the muslin bag for the final filtering.

Now we use the muslin bag ( a clean white pillowcase will work fine, albeit a bit to big in my opinion ).
You need to wet the muslin bag first and squeeze out all the water. It filters best when wet.

Pour the juice into a muslin bag or clean piece of sheet, the bottom of which is setting in a bowl.

photo showing juice being poured into muslin bag for straining the juice.

The juice being strained through a muslin sheet piece.
Juice will have a rich burgundy wine color, sort of like cranberry juice.

Pick up the bag and let drip into bowl. Don't force the juice throuh the muslin fabric. Just pick it up and let it drain into the bowl on it's own. It filters best when you don't force things through the fabric that would not go through on it's own.

showing final product. sumac juice concentrate

Here is a final product.
The juice will have a rich burgundy wine color, sort of like cranberry juice.
The consistancy will also be like cranberry juice.

The final juice will be about the color and consistency of cranberry juice, maybe just a bit thicker.
It will be sour, just like lemon juice.

Keep the concentrate in an juice jug in the refrigerator. It will keep for several weeks.

The way to use this concentrated juice is to cut it at a ratio of 1:1, that is, when you're ready to drink some pour half a cup of juice and half a cup of water in a glass, sweeten to taste ( remember it's like lemonaide so it will take a bit of sweetening ), stir and add ice. ENJOY.

I use Splenda. That way I can drink as much as i want without worrying about the calories. And I do drink a lot of it.

Don't expect it to taste just like lemonaide however.
This is Sumac and tastes like Sumac. Just like oranges don't taste like tangerines you have to appreciate that Sumac will have it's own unique and distinctive taste.

After a few helpings you will like it's unique, lemony/tart flavor, it's refreshing nature, the pleasure of the gathering and especially the fact that it is FREE.
OR you won't, not everyone loves the same thing.

Extra Sumac seeds. About one pound in freezer bag and ready for the freezer.

Extra Sumac seeds. About one pound and ready for the freezer.

Sumac seeds will keep a long time in the freezer. Don't was them. Put in a freezer bag and work the bag while closing to get out all the air you can.

I have used bags that were at least two years in the freezer.

You can even use the unsweetened concentrate to pour over fruit to preserve freshness, just like you would use lemon juice or Fruitfresh, use it for salad dressings, and for making Sumac meringue pie (substitute Sumac juice for lemon juice).

Staghorn Sumac Pink 'Lemonaide'

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