Country Lore: Sumac Lemonade

A reader in Massachusetts describes how his family collects sumac berries to make tart sumac lemonade, or sumac-ade as they call it.
By Lucas Lombardi
June/July 2009
Add to My MSN

Staghorn sumac like this bunch is one of three types of sumac berries you can make into sumac lemonade.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA


Content Tools

Related Content

Lavender Honey Lemonade Recipe

Try this refreshing herbal lemonade recipe.

How to Make Tangy Sumac Extract

Tastes like lemonade, has the beautiful blush color of rose wine, and comes from a plant that's almo...

Tips and Home Remedies for Treating Poison Ivy, Rash, Blisters and Itching

Bust the myths surrounding poison ivy and decide which DIY remedies are right for you.

Pantone Color of the Year: Honeysuckle

Some of Natural Home’s favorite paint and wallcovering companies get pretty in pink.

My family and I like to pick the small clusters of red fuzzy berries that grow on the top of staghorn, smooth, and winged sumac trees to make a kind of lemonade. The clusters ripen around mid-August. Sumac-ade is my name for free, homemade pink lemonade.

To make sumac lemonade, pick about a dozen red clusters. Then rub, crunch, and squeeze them in about a gallon of cold water for five to 10 minutes to release the flavor. Next, drape a piece of cheesecloth over a bowl, and strain the liquid. Then add sweetener to the liquid to taste — but not so much that you lose the acidic taste of the sumac-ade. Serve over ice.

Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is found in the upper Midwest and Northeast, winged sumac (Rhus copallinum) in the East and South, and smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) prefers all of the east and central United States and western locations. These non-poisonous sumacs grow in open and edge habitats. Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is found all over the eastern United States, in wetlands, and along streams.

Lucas Lombardi
Billerica, MA








Post a comment below.

 

Corvi Zeman
8/2/2009 12:10:40 AM
There is a "poison sumac" but it isn't the same plant as "regular" sumac, the same way "poison ivy" and "regular" ivy are completely different plants, too. Poison sumac is really nasty stuff - if you burn it, people who inhale the smoke get blisters and rashes inside their lungs. It's possibly the most toxic plant that grows native to North America. Luckily, it's pretty easy to tell poison sumac berries from staghorn or other regular sumac if you want to follow this recipe. Poison sumac has white berries that grow along stems; regular sumacs have bajillions of tiny red berries in thick clusters, cuvered with furry stuff (I think? Maybe not all sumac species are furry). There's a picture of poison sumac berries here: http://landscaping.about.com/od/weedsdiseases/ig/Poison-Sumac-Pictures/white_berries.--1A.htm A real sumac: http://eastgwillimburywow.blogspot.com/2009/01/sumac-berries-ruby-tuesday.html

Carolyn Coxson
7/9/2009 3:26:01 PM
Isn't Sumac poison? I was always told to keep away from it as it causes a rash similar to poison ivy. Does anyone know if this has any nutritional value or health benefits of any kind? It would be great to see a picture of the plant along with this article so that we are all in agreement as to what sumac looks like.








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.