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Thursday, March 7, 2013

SUMAC RECIPES AND KNOW-HOW! Sumacade, sumac shoots, Sumac Smack Snacks and more!

Sumac:  The red sumac ain't poison...IN FACT I EAT IT!!  

Most of us grew up thinking sumac was a plant to stay clear of, much like we steer clear of poison ivy or poison oak, but it doesn't have to be.  American Indians and early pioneers frequented this plant for medicine, food, hide tanning, and dye.
 Red sumac like Staghorn Sumac (in photo to left) are not toxic plants to most of us, in fact, they are very useful, yummy plants when prepared and utilized correctly.  Several red sumac varieties exist around my home in, Nevada, Missouri, but the plant is widely naturalized throughout much of the USA.  Wikipedia and the USDA have great pictures and information on types of Sumac if you're interested.
Poison Sumac isn't a myth, it DOES EXIST, but it has white to white/green seed heads instead of the burgundy and red seed heads that fall sumacwe see all over Missouri.  To be honest, poison sumac is really in rare supply throughout the Midwest.  
**(DISCLAIMER TIME) NOW, LISTEN CAREFULLY!  I'm not saying people can't be allergic to edible sumac because they can.**  Red sumac varieties are in the same family as CASHEWS, PISTACHIOS, MANGOES, and many other items....So, be careful!!  Do your research!!  If you know you are HIGHLY allergic to any related items the chances of having a reaction to the edible variety of sumac is likely. As always when wild crafting, foraging for wild foods, or trying new things  BE SAFE!
Sumac seeds taste like lemon Kool-aid mix, they are VERY tart no matter what time of year you harvest them!  They are full of vitamin C and other acids that make you pucker and this treat is available all winter long if you can beat the deer and birds to it!  

middle eastern market sumac The young tree shoots can be eaten in the spring as you would asparagus or raw like celery. The shoots have a sweet taste when they are young.  The berries can be eaten whole in trail mix or ground up for fish or meat seasoning.  The Sumac spice is a staple in the middle east where it is used to flavor meat dishes.  American Indians chewed the berries, smoked the leaves for lung ailments, drank root tea and leaf tea for healing of parasites, and made seed head tea for just for the simple enjoyment and, I'm sure it beat down the winter vitamin C deficiency so many experienced (scurvy) prior to the advent of supplements and grocery stores! 

 The antibacterial properties of the  plant are JUST NOW being studied! It's too bad we foo away "folk medicine" as ignorance.  The studies confirm what Great Grandma and the rest of the American Indians already knew:  It wards off sickness!  The promising results of these studies will hopefully open our eyes to the useful benefits of wild foods and herbal remedies, but in the meantime,RECIPES TO EAT THESE WEEDS: 

 1 cup or so  Sumac seed-heads1 quart water (give or take), sugar/ honey/ agave nectar to taste 
Servings: 1
1.  Fill a large glass jar half full of sumac seed heads.
2.  Add 1 quart of water and seal the top.
3.  Let the mixture sit for at least a half hour, occasionally shaking it to help release flavor from the seed heads. ( I make "sun tea"  or warm it on the stove to help the seeds release the tart stuff.  If you heat the water it takes less time to prepare. )
4.  Sweeten to taste!  You can drink this sumacade unsweetened...But, I don't!  I prefer mine with 1/4 cup raw honey or Agave Nectar.
5.  Strain over Ice and ENJOY!  
This drink is just like lemonade! You can experiment with the flavors to suit your taste and nobody makes lemonade the same so BE CREATIVE! You can even serve a sprig of Sumac in your iced tea with a mint leaf for a little WILD FLAIR!  
(wild crafted, nutritious munchies that serves about 10 rounds snacks)
1/4 cup pecan meat chopped, 1/2 cup red sumac seeds, 1/2 cup wheat kernels, 1/4 cup whole oats, 1/4 cup fine ground oats, 1/4 dried wild berry/ you pick/ (dried ELDERBERRY IS MY FAVORITE!), 1/4-1/2 cup raw honey.
1.  Mix all ingredients together EXCEPT FINE GROUND OATS and stir!
 (The honey I use is right out of the hive and unpasteurized so its thicker.  You may have to add more dry stuff or less honey...just experiment with it and remember that is half the fun!)
2.  Roll the sticky mess you just created into 1 inch little balls (ideally, you'd want to butter your hands first to prevent sticky hands later...but we're out in the wild/ butter is NOT an option! lol)
3.  Roll the balls in the ground oats just to cover the sticky stuff.  You can also use cattail pollen, powdered /ground pecans, almond flour, bran flakes..Whatever!  Feel Free to Customize!  The main goal here is to keep them from sticking to themselves so you can travel with them and have a nutritious, high protein snack while you're on the trail.
4. STORE AWAY FROM CHILDREN, COONS, AND BEARS!  (they eat 'em too fast!) Any airtight container works

Thanks for reading, Crystal 


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