Sumacade is a very tasty alternative to lemonade. Not that I want to replace fresh, homemade lemonade. That’s just crazy!
What I want is more than lemonade, variety. They say it’s the spice of life. In this case, it’s a sweet and tart, tasty wild food elixir. A lovely treat indeed.
Late summer, early fall is the prime time to make this amazing herbal beverage. So right now is prime time. Head on out and find yourself a staghorn sumac tree, pick 3 or 4 of it’s gorgeous blooms, and brew up a batch of sumacade. You’ll be glad you did!
This edible wild food is pretty easy to identify. However, with that said I should also point out that I am not a wild food expert by any means.
I am simply a woman who has dabbled in the world of wild food on a semi-regular basis. I have a bit of knowledge to share in this area and I feel even a bit is useful. But I always encourage others to do their own research when it comes to harvesting wild food. As in the end the responsibility for your own safety does indeed belong to you.
How To Identify Staghorn Sumac
It is said that staghorn sumac has 2 look-a-likes. They are poison sumac and the tree of heaven.
It is bewildering to me that these plants are considered look-a-likes to staghorn sumac. They both have white fruit/berries, while staghorn sumac berry blooms are a very distinct red color.
Nonetheless, they are look-a-likes. And poison sumac is … well … poison.
Additionally, staghorn sumac has serrated edges around the leaves. While the leaves of both poison sumac and tree of heaven have smooth edges.
For your reference while doing your own research, the botanical names for the plant you want to use to make your sumacade are either Rhus glabra or Rhus typhina.
Preparing Staghorn Sumac Berries To Brew Ade
If you’ve cut your staghorn berries cleanly away from the stem they grew on when you harvested them, they won’t require any further hands on grooming before you can use them to make sumacade.
However, you will want to let them sit outside for about 24 hours. This will allow some time for any bugs that may be hiding in the berries to vacate their little sumac havens.
Once you’re confident that they’re bug free you’re ready to get that ade brewing.
How To Make Sumacade
The first thing you want to do when brewing sumacade is choose the vessel you’re going to brew it in. You can use a pitcher if you like. I’ve done this on occasion when I was going to serve my sumacade to friends/family at a gathering or small get-together. It’s a nice way to present the beverage in these circumstances.
But my favorite vessel is a simple canning jar. It’s practical, and I most often brew sumacade just for my own consumption. If I want my enjoyment of it to feel a little special, I just serve it to myself in a wine glass.
A quart jar works just fine and I use them often to brew up just a couple of glasses of ade for myself. But if you have a half gallon canning jar that’s ideal, in my opinion. It brews up a nice size little batch, one that will last you for at least a few days.
Once you have chosen a brewing vessel, heat enough water to fill it most of the way. It isn’t necessary to bring it to a full boil. As a matter of fact, you may want to avoid getting it too hot as you don’t want the heat to break the glass.
Next, you need to add sweetener to the water. Any sweetener will do, use your favorite. I use honey, as it is one of the healthiest options available. And … well … I like it a lot.
This step is done to taste. So, make your water as sweet as you like it. And then immerse a few cones of staghorn sumac berries in it, I find that three cones work perfectly in a quart size jar.
Let your brew sit on the kitchen counter until it cools down to room temperature. Then cover it and let it sit for 24 hours.
Finally, pull those berries out and strain the brew through a coffee filter to remove any plant particles that are remaining in it.
How To Store Sumacade
Sumacade stores well in the refrigerator. It will last about 7 to 10 days.
I usually make an extra large batch just before all of the sumac is about to die off for the winter. This last batch of the season is used to make sumacade ice cubes. I toss these ice cubes in a baggie and freeze them.
In the dead of winter, when I’m feeling like I need a bit of the taste of a late summer day, I thaw them out and enjoy a little sumacade brew. I don’t even mind that it’s iced.
Benefits of Drinking Sumacade
Staghorn sumac has been used by many different peoples to enhance good health and treat poor health conditions.
It contains vitamin C and many beneficial minerals as well.
Native Americans, Native Canadians, and American pioneers used it to treat bladder issues, digestive problems, respiratory ailments, and fever.
It has also been used as a laxative and a diuretic. And to support liver function, as well.
For me, I drink it just because I enjoy it a great deal. It’s such a nice treat. And I am a huge fan of wild food, which is not surprising in light of my passionate support of slow food.
If you have this incredible berry available to you don’t miss out on the pleasures and benefits it has to offer.
And do stop in the comments and let me know if you’ve ever tried sumacade. Or maybe you tried it because of this post, and you can let me know what you thought of it. I’d love to chat all about it!
DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed health professional. You are solely responsible for researching herbs to determine how you choose to use them. If you decide to make them a part of your health care plan, I take no responsibility for the results of that decision.
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