Everything You Need to Know about Sumac.
It’s hard to choose the most enticing feature of the unique and exotic spice sumac. Between its deep red colour and citrusy tart flavour, sumac has a lot to offer any meal it makes an appearance in. As a trademark spice of the Middle East that is both flavour some and full of health benefits, there’s no surprise that sumac is starting to make its way into everyone’s kitchen.
What Is Sumac?
Sumac is a spice that comes from the dried and ground red berries of the sumac flower. Once formed, sumac is bright red and very fragrant with a tangy, citrusy acidic flavour that resembles lemon juice. Sumac not only provides a tart citrus note to foods but also turns anything it touches bright red.
Where Does Sumac Come From?
The sumac flower thrives in subtropical climates prevalent in the Mediterranean, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It grows all over the world and has over 200 different strains. However, Syrian sumac, Rhus coriaria, is the strain that is most commonly used for culinary and herbal medicine purposes.
4 Ways to Use Sumac
Sumac is a delicious addition to any meal. Our top 4 suggestions of how to incorporate sumac are:
- In your homemade za’atar blend. Without sumac, za’atar can’t exist. Sumac is a standard ingredient in za’atar which is a Mediterranean spice blend that works perfectly on everything from bread to meats and veggies.
- Make sumac tea. This is a really easy way to consume sumac. You can substitute lemon juice for sumac in your tea as well.
- As a substitute for lemon or vinegar. This may seem strange as both lemon and vinegar have such distinct flavours. However, that is why sumac works as a more subtle less acidic substitute which is great for those with sensitivities.
- Use sumac as a marinade or rub for your meats. Sumac enhances the natural fats of quality meat due to its bright flavours. We especially love sumac on roast chicken and roast potatoes because of the extra lemon zest flavour.
Sumac Spice Health Benefits
Other than excellent flavours, the potential health benefits of sumac mean this spice has a lot to offer. Sumac’s medicinal use has a history spanning thousands of years all the way back into Ancient Greece. Now, the extent of sumac’s medicinal uses are being extensively studied and proven.
- Sumac is rich in multiple antioxidant which helps to protect your body and brain from free radicals and oxidative stress. Studies have shown that the high levels of antioxidants that sumac possesses are why it has so much therapeutic potential.
- Sumac can help regulate and balance blood sugar levels. Research suggests that sumac can actually help those suffering from type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar naturally and effectively.
- Exercise-induced muscle pain can be alleviated using sumac according to a 2016 study that oversaw 40 healthy, active adults consume sumac to ease muscle pain against a placebo. Those who consumed sumac experienced far less muscle pain than the placebo group.
How to store sumac correctly.
In order to maintain its integrity and freshness sumac should be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place.
How do I identify poison sumac?
Luckily these days sumac is often packaged and ready to be bought for our convenience. However, if you’re ever in the position to pick and grind your own sumac be sure to only consume sumac flowers with red berries not white berries. Sumac flowers with white berries are highly poisonous.