View Full Version : sumac-ade?

06-29-2010, 04:37 PM
okay so i was reading in my book and found a page on making a drink from the red seeds of staghorn sumac. it didnt give all that much information on it and i was wondering if you guys knew how to make it. my grandma said she made it as a kid and it was delicious. we have tons of the staghorn around here. i need to know the supplies and procedure for making it.


06-29-2010, 04:42 PM


06-29-2010, 07:45 PM
thank ya rick. when you guys say you added the berries do you mean that you picked off the tiny idividual berries or you just boiled one of the big bunches?

06-30-2010, 08:09 AM
I just soak the whole bunches. If you touch the berries with your fingers, you'll wipe off the stuff that makes it lemony!
I don't boil mine, just put in a bottle and shake for a while, or put in a jug and stir for a while. I don't add anything to mine, but it could use a little sweetener IMO. It's a nice change from straight water when out on the trail. something to give your mouth a wake up call!

06-30-2010, 09:16 AM
so the stuff that looks like small segments of branches?

06-30-2010, 01:06 PM
Pics would be worth...well, you know.

06-30-2010, 01:18 PM
i would but . . . camera broke and i have no idea how to use webcam

06-30-2010, 01:21 PM
Well, first you have to drag the computer out to the woods. Then there's the extension cord problem.......

06-30-2010, 02:18 PM
lol i have plenty of extension cord. actually its a laptop and i just figured out the web cam. ill have pics posted soon

(any one else with picks please feel free to post it)

06-30-2010, 05:50 PM
I saw some perfectly ripe berries today and passed em by.

But, It's a pretty basic process really and that's what's so nice about it.

1. Just pick the ripe berry clusters whole

2. put them in a large container with cold or luke warm water

3. bruise and "very lightly" smash them a bit to get it working.

4. let it sit for a few hours just like you would sun tea. You can do this in the fridge if you like.

5. Strain thru a coffee filter/ etc.

6. Drink!

The clusters usually have grubs in them so you want to strain to remove them, the hairs and any other debris. You could carefully pick the berry clusters off the main stem and winnow out the majority of grubs and debris prior to soaking, but it's not needed. The end product is the same either way "forthemostpart". I'd stand to guess the grubby version is more nutritious though.

Also, it can get a lot of tannins in it if you break and mash the main stem too much. Tearing or cutting the individual clusters off the main stem might do this as well because you're exposing more damaged bark to the water. Although, you're getting rid of the big main stem so it might not. It will be more of a green or brown color if that's the case, otherwise it's a reddish/ brown amber color. I did that once, but it still tasted good, just not as flavorful. If you use hot water or boil you will release the tannins as well and most likely kill the vitamin C, enzymes, etc. that make it so good.

It's pretty good as is, but it don't taste like lemonade to me. More like a green or light black tea flavorwise with a slight tart flavor. I've added honey to mine for the non-primitives in the house and I didn't let them know about the grubs. :) They all thought it was great.

The best berries are ones that are still sticky and haven't been washed out by heavy or repeated rains. I think it was Sam Thayer who gave me that notion.

06-30-2010, 05:58 PM
Repeated rains. Just my luck. Just a note that my Peterson Guide says the very same thing about repeated rains.

06-30-2010, 06:07 PM
We've had endless rain and the berries I passed today were a-ok. They had a white tinge to them and were real sticky. Maybe they were sheltered somewhat. There was a big Cottonwood right above them.

06-30-2010, 06:11 PM
I think I'm going to try this one this week-end. I've never messed with Sumac before so this will be a new one for me. Appreciate the step by steps.

07-07-2010, 07:45 PM
Well the white tinged berries I mentioned earlier weren't ripe. They tasted sour, but when you made tea it was green and bland, not sour, but good like plain ole tea would be. Theyt were not staghorn sumac, but I believe smooth sumac instead.

But, yesterday I found some ultra ripe and not washed out by rain staghorn sumac berries. They made a light golden tea that was unmistakably sour like lemons. Although, it still don't quite taste like lemoneade to me, but a mix of tea and lemons.

I think these berries are about as good as it gets and I found another method for prep.

Using the same plastic ice cream pail I used for gathering sap this spring I lightly packed it full of whole berry clusters. I sprayed them down with the faucet sprayer and covered them with water. Then, I put the lid on the pail and shook it up real good. Let it sit for a few hours in the heat and after straining thru a coffee filter twice it was real real good.

Those berries made two batches, about 1 gallon or so.

I didn't squeeze or damage the berries or stems in any way as suggested in most books. That, and the ripeness I believe led to such a good turnout.

Good stuff!

Apparently the staghorn sumac ripens earlier than the other varieties we have.