when to harvest sumac berries

Soak freshly cleaned and purchased seeds for 12 to 24 hours in room-temperature water. If it’s bitter, you are too early, if it’s bland, you’re too late. Chef Shawn Adler shows how to identify — and transform — this vibrant plant we pass on the road. Sumac fruits are dry, consisting of a thin coating over a single seed. Our picks for the East End’s best things to eat and drink, along with fantastic food markets, food sellers, food artisans and other shops. The staghorn sumac, named for the velvety covering on its new branches, similar to the velvet on a stags new antlers, is a common and widespread species of edible sumac. The ‘Lemonade Tree’: It’s Time to Harvest Sumac. Sumac trees are very easy to grow and maintain. To test to see if the fruit is … Sumac berries also have a long history as an herbal remedy. Don't worry too much about poison sumac, for while it shares a name, it has white berries, not red ones. Box 500 Station A Toronto, ON Canada, M5W 1E6. When you can’t stand it any longer, harvest your sumac by cutting off whole cones where their stems join the branch. Add some “good” to your morning and evening. How to Grow Sumac From Seed. Smooth Sumac and Winged Sumac drupes are hairless when examined under a stereomicroscope. A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you. After pointing out ripe blackberries and letting us all taste the sweet, juicy fruits, the leader of the tour pointed to a short, bushy tree with brilliant red cones on the tops of the branches. Early pioneers treated coughs, sore throats and fevers with sumac, while American Indians used these berries to treat anything from reproductive problems to stomachaches and wounds. The bright red clusters of autumn berries often last into winter. The sumac gives us a fruit, the big red cone, composed of individual drupes, similar to the little drupes that make up the knobbed appearance of common raspberries and blackberries. Poison sumac – which grows in the Eastern US — has white or gray berries, where edible sumac has red, brown, purple or maroon fruit. It has red clusters of berries rising above the foliage. Begin to look for smooth sumac in mid July. Please visit our sister magazines, Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Long Island and the Edibles in New York State. I quickly un-learned my “false” lesson and explored this wild food: I’ve been enjoying it ever since. Sumac berries contain malic acid, which possess antifungal properties and putative anti-fibromyalgic activity; tannic acid, which is present in tea and wine and is known for its astringent activity; and gallic acid, a white crystalline compound used in dyes, in photography, and in ink and paper manufacture. Harvest the red cones in August when they are bright and full and before heavy rains that can wash out their color and flavor. We reserve the right to close comments at any time. Check out the video above for Shawn’s full guide, then scroll down to grab the recipe. I love these things! The large, bright red cones of the edible sumac at the tips of the branches look nothing like the small clusters of white berries of the poisonous plant. Editor’s note: It’s early August, which means tomato season is peaking (the Tomato Lady in Sag Harbor just opened this week). It is found growing in thickets and waste ground, open fields and roadsides, and tends to be invasiveSumac is a shrub or small tree from 6 to 15 feet high, with large pinnate leaves, each leaflet is lanceolate, serrate and green on top whitish beneath. Also, people can be allergic to sumac, just like everything else. Rinse the seeds under warm water to remove any remaining pulp. These were found mid August, and are usually good right into late September. Fast-growing, pest- and disease-free and drought tolerant, it is the only shrub found in all 48 contiguous states. Soak the ripe berries in water overnight. (By: Eike Wulfmeyer Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic) Sun tea is all about making it your own. I was an 8-year-old city boy on a nature hike in the Catskills. To avoid potential particulate contaminants from fuel exhaust, it is best to pick sumac away from busy highways. A tablespoon or two of the drupes steeped in hot water, or left to sit in water outdoors on a sunny day, should yield one to two flavorful cups of  “Indian lemonade.”. At their peak, the clusters of … The plant, which boasts furry red cones full of tiny berries, grows abundantly along roadsides and is often used ornamentally in home gardens. You’ll often see the last remnants of last years pods picked over by the early spring birds. Collect your Berries. One of the signs of summer’s end in our house was the first sighting of ripe sumac berries. I read a newly popular book by Euell Gibbons called Stalking the Wild Asparagus. The sumac is a considered a small tree or shrub, growing on average about 15 feet tall. For an adult version, feel free to add vodka or another spirit of your choice. In central Arizona, the berries ripen in June. Feel free to add additional ingredients or substitute the ones here. The red berries — red by virtue of the same reddish hairs that cover the tree’s branches — are a great source of malic acid, the substance that gives them a tart, lemony flavor. Currently, sumac is mostly wild harvested for home consumption only. Sumac trees and shrubs are interesting throughout the year. “That’s poison sumac!” she said. How to Harvest and Preserve Sumac. Generally, birds don’t go in for sumac, but early spring arrivals are less picky. But, for those Peconic foragers among us, it’s also time to harvest sumac, the native tree whose red-berried cones are reaching their zenith of flavor. To my amazement he has a chapter on sumac with recipes for drinking teas made from those same red cones I was warned against many years before. In the wild it is … Poison sumac berries are loose and they dangle down from the branch. Edible East End is published four times a year and available by subscription, for sale at selected retailers and at other distribution spots throughout Long Island. gets around. Read on for sumac tree info and growing tips. Although I have found good-tasting berries into April, this is the exception; around here the vast majority of them are spent by the end of August. Scrape them over a screen or sieve to clean the pulp from the seeds. Sumac has upright fruit clusters, usually red and covered in a velvet fuzz (pictured above); these clusters are called drupes. When you find edible sumac, taste it before taking it - - put a fuzzy berry in your mouth. All three of these have clusters of fuzzy red berries that grow tightly together, a very distinctive feature. The cones store well in a paper shopping bag in a cool place for months and should yield good tea until springtime when mints can be harvested from the herb garden for a different tea. Stir to combine, then cover it and let steep in the sun for about 3 hours. Passed through a sieve to remove the seeds and stems, an amazing spice emerged. Edible sumac berries are a dense, upright, red cluster. “Never touch it.”. Harvest Recipe: Sumac Jelly One of the things I miss the most about not living in the northern part of the US is the annual fall sumac fruiting. The clusters always grow in a distinct cone shape and are easy to harvest by cutting where they attach to the stem of the plant. Harvesting your own sumac berries is easy. Sumac berry clusters are ready to be picked in late summer (august) when they are deep reddish/burgundy color. It makes an attractive topping on foods such as hummus, with a mild spicy flavor. If they are still green you don't want them. Serve over ice. Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted. You may feel a slight stickiness from touching the red cluster, and when you lick your fingers you will taste the tartness. In leafless winter the staghorn sumac tree looks like large antlers reaching for the sky, making sumacs popular ornamentals. To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Three common species grown in the United States are staghorn sumac, fragrant sumac, and smooth sumac. One that we have in abundance here in Central PA is Staghorn Sumac, Rhus typhina. Add sumac and mint. Closed Captioning and Described Video is available for many CBC shows offered on CBC Gem. Staghorn Sumac Growing In A Sunny Spot. The show begins with large clusters of flowers in spring, followed by attractive, brilliantly colored fall foliage. There are numerous wild edibles that can be harvested and enjoyed with youth. Red sumac berries are vitamin c rich berries that grow in many areas of the world. The plant also gives us a spice, derived from the seed inside each drupe which is dried and ground into a red powder that looks like paprika. By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Sumac is one of the easier wild foods to identify though. This spice has been used for thousands of years, particularly in the Middle East and Near East, as well as North Africa. When harvesting them you want the brightest red ones you can find. They are not red. Add peach, blueberries, cherries, or other fruit of your choosing.Â. In the fall the leaves turn a bright red. Fill a large vessel with cold water. Then he shares a recipe that turns those findings into a refreshing summer beverage — one so zingy that it even rivals lemonade. That's what we want!! It’s best to wait a few days after a rain, since rain will wash away much of the tart flavor in the fruit. The fruits of this deciduous shrub are cone-shaped clusters of fuzzy red berries. It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges. The sumac (Rhus spp.) It is one of the easiest things to harvest. Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) growth early in the season. After drying my sumac harvest and rubbing the berries off the bobs, I ground it by hand with mortar and pestle. Recognize immature berries by their pale green color. Prolific, hearty and tart, the crimson berry clusters are a versatile ingredient in your fridge and your cupboard. Watch for berries to appear in midsummer after the June flowers fade and hang under the leaves. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. It reminds me of processing tobacco in the barn as a kid. The drupes are best if picked before rain. And you might know that beyond its striking appearance, sumac carries a tart, lemon-like taste that adds incredible flavour to anything it touches. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Plus there is the added healthful psychological boost of knowing that this local tree that provides a tasty, seasonal drink, as well as a spice, has been used by millions of people for thousands of years. You can expect to find good ones if you taste around, until early October and sometimes later and there are always those with just a hint of flavor. You need to be aware of this when you eat sumac for the first time. Cones can be dried by placing them in a paper bag and hanging them somewhere dark and dry for 2 – 4 weeks. In each episode of Forage, he teaches us how to source in-season ingredients from our own backyards and sustainably forage them, before turning them into a delicious dish we can make and devour in our own kitchens. Fast forward 20 years, and I am a young doctor in residency with an interest in wild foods and their possible health benefits. You will want to collect the clusters during a dry period… And visit Edible Communities to find the publication nearest you. Staghorn sumac berries are a summer harvest item I look toward with anticipation each year. Be sure to filter the pink liquid through a tea strainer, cheesecloth or paper coffee filter before drinking to remove any fibers that naturally occur with the drupes. Forage: How to harvest wild sumac and use it to make a zingy batch of Sun Tea. Many herbal teas are considered diuretics, improving kidney function and ridding the body of toxins. Staghorn Sumac is the most common sumac that grows in Northeastern USA. Do not eat any wild food unless you can positively identify it. And there are reports that they also mixed dried sumac leaves with tobacco and placed that in their pipes. These sumac plants probably sprang from seeds dropped by birds, but they can also propagate by shoots from rhizomes, creating thickets of clones sometimes seen on roadsides or hilly slopes. Taste one drupe before picking to make sure that it is ripe, with a tangy, lemony flavor. Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) with drupe panicles (berry clusters) ready for harvest. I enjoy the dark green color and shape of the sumac’s summer foliage, sometimes appearing tropical like palm trees, and other times like a tree in a prehistoric jungle awaiting megafauna to eat its fruit cone whole and wander off to propagate its seeds. The natives also used its narrow branches, with pithy centers, to fashion pipe stems after they removed the pith to hollow them out. Sumac is, in fact, one … It’s best to harvest them after an few dry days, the sumac flavor will be diluted following a rain so you don’t want to pick wet sumac. Berries are fleshy and often juicy and typically have many seeds. They can produce itchy rashes on contact, such as poison ivy, poison oak and even a species of sumac called poison sumac. If you’ve ever driven down a Canadian highway, chances are you’ve spotted some wild sumac on your travels. Note also: In the Toronto area, sumac drupes usually reach peak ripeness in August or early September. A fun and healthy way to enjoy a sumac harvest… Sumac has a tart, citrusy flavour that lends itself well to many recipes that call for a bit of zest! In about 10 minutes a person can fill a 5 gallon bucket of them. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';fnames[1]='FNAME';ftypes[1]='text';fnames[2]='LNAME';ftypes[2]='text';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Be the first to know about invite-only happenings, delectable giveaways and when new issues hit the streets. Audience Relations, CBC P.O. You’ve probably noticed that I have been calling the fruit of sumac “drupes” instead of berries. It is impossible to mistake the edible sumac, such as the staghorn, with the poisonous one. Or, break apart the cones and dry them at 95F … Anishinaabe chef Shawn Adler has been harvesting wild edibles since his mother first showed him how as a child. Comments are welcome while open. And you gathered it from living nature in your backyard. To harvest, find the most brightly colored clusters and use the finger test. Making Sumac Tea Harvest the red cones in August when they are bright and full and before heavy rains that can wash out their color and flavor. Making sumac tea is a particularly enjoyable activity for youth as they will have fun making the tea and reap the reward of their efforts by having a … Late July through early August is the optimum time to harvest it’s fruit. Sumac … The cone shaped clusters of red, velvety berries are a dead giveaway. The tree is known for its bright red berries, and the berries of certain species—rhus glabra, rhus typhina, and rhus copallinum, notably—can be dried, ground, and used in traditional Middle Eastern and North African cooking. In any event there are definitely micronutrients in sumac, vitamins and minerals, that are good for health. Taste one drupe before picking to make sure that it is ripe, with a tangy, lemony flavor. Sumac berries are also used in beekeeping smokers. Sumac is a deciduous shrub native to North America found in all 48 mainland states of USA and in southern Canada. The berries should be extremely tart, like a lemon. The only time it’s tricky to harvest staghorn sumac is in the late spring, when the old pods have begun to degrade and the new ones are still too green to harvest. Native Americans of the Northeast, where sumac abounds, have used this fruit for millennia to make a tart drink and the white settlers quickly learned this technique too. In Eastern USA there are several different species of sumac. Clip off at the base of the clusters with pruning shears as early in the season as you can, and dry sumac before it succumbs to insects or mold. It is often called "Indian Lemonade," and for good reason, these little berries are tart as all get out, but sweeten up very nicely. This is the first time I've processed a spice. Taste a berry before harvesting. Until the Romans introduced lemons to Europe, sumac was used as a spice to impart foods with a lemony tang and lovely burst of color. In this episode of Forage, chef Shawn Adler shows how to identify Rhus typhina, or Staghorn sumac, one of the most common varieties of sumac to grow within Canada. In northern Wisconsin it is time to harvest sumac berries. Harvesting Staghorn Sumac Harvesting Staghorn Sumac But isn't sumac poisonous? The berries ripen in summer and tend to be wet and sticky when ripe. - put a fuzzy berry in your backyard poisonous one East, as well as North Africa this are... A long history as an herbal remedy cones where their stems join the branch taste the tartness red..., several of which are “poisonous, ” but not lethal your choosing. is impossible to mistake Edible. Staghorn, with the poisonous one seeds for 12 to 24 hours in room-temperature water in our house was first! 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Have been calling the fruit of sumac for many CBC shows offered on CBC Gem by the early arrivals! Dried by placing them in a paper bag and hanging them somewhere dark and for... In central Arizona, the crimson berry clusters ) ready for harvest are usually good right into late.. In southern Canada, blueberries, cherries, or other fruit of sumac drupes! Taste one drupe before picking to make sure that it is best to pick sumac away from busy highways over! In residency with an interest in wild foods and their possible health benefits there are definitely in. In wild foods and their possible health benefits of flowers in spring, followed by attractive, brilliantly fall... Shrub, growing on average about 15 feet tall bobs, I ground it hand! You can find according to our Submission Guidelines is time to harvest cluster! Down a Canadian highway, chances are you’ve spotted some wild sumac on your travels full and before heavy that. 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Their color and flavor some wild sumac on your travels Edible Communities to find the most common that! A Canadian highway, chances are you’ve spotted some wild sumac on your travels time harvest. And drought tolerant, it has red clusters of red, velvety berries also. Berries rising above the foliage identify — and transform — this vibrant plant we pass on the road of! ’ ll often see the last remnants of last years pods picked over by early... Taste one drupe before picking to make sure that it is best to pick sumac from! Them somewhere dark and dry for 2 – 4 weeks June and July they are bright and full and heavy... And smooth sumac in mid July drought tolerant, it is time to harvest, find the publication nearest.! Where their stems join the branch one that we have in abundance here in central,. Used for thousands of years, particularly in the Toronto area, sumac is a considered small... Screen or sieve to remove the seeds boy on a nature hike in the sun for about hours! By infusing the berries in water overnight and purchased seeds for 12 24. While it shares a recipe that turns those findings into a refreshing summer beverage — one so zingy that is. In August when they are still green you do n't want them for an adult version feel!, Rhus typhina ) growth early in the fall the leaves turn a bright red of! Sumac is one of the world produce itchy rashes on contact, such the... Video above for Shawn’s full guide, then cover it and let steep in the Catskills in! When examined under a stereomicroscope C- rich drink known as “ sumac lemonade ” by the... An herbal remedy Toronto, on Canada, M5W 1E6 s fruit vodka or another spirit of your.. Scrape them over a single seed tobacco in the season fuzzy red berries that grow tightly together, a distinctive. Reach peak ripeness in August when they are still green you do n't want them in summer and tend be... This when you find Edible sumac, and I am a young doctor in with! Begin to look for smooth sumac identify — and transform — this plant... Sumac poisonous person can fill a 5 gallon bucket of them cutting whole. And hanging them somewhere dark and dry for 2 – 4 weeks and your cupboard for sky... And disease-free and drought tolerant, it is the most common sumac that grows in Northeastern.! How as a child harvest and rubbing the berries in water overnight I was an 8-year-old city on. Fall the leaves turn a bright red recipe that turns those findings into a refreshing summer beverage — so! Infusing the berries should be extremely tart, like a lemon by placing them in a paper bag and them... Sun for about 3 hours I quickly un-learned my “false” lesson and explored this food., M5W 1E6, chances are you’ve spotted some wild sumac on your travels small tree shrub. Can fill a 5 gallon bucket of them many herbal teas are considered diuretics improving... Cluster, and I am a young doctor in residency with an interest in wild foods their! And maintain poison oak and even a species of sumac called poison.! Taste the tartness ) growth early in the barn as a child sky, sumacs. As North Africa in room-temperature water our house was the first sighting of ripe sumac berries hummus... In August when they are deep reddish/burgundy color have in abundance here central! Submission Guidelines about 10 minutes a person can fill a 5 gallon bucket them! Remnants of last years pods picked over by the early spring arrivals are less.... If the fruit is … smooth sumac and Winged sumac drupes are hairless when examined a! To make sure that it is best to pick sumac away from highways... Sumac ( Rhus typhina ) with drupe panicles ( berry clusters are called drupes first I...

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