The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

processing my sumac harvest

I used to only know sumac as the tree my mom used for making a strange tea. The sumac trees here, planted behind a retaining wall, I paid little attention to for years. Until I noticed how plump and vibrant the clusters of tiny red berries were at their peak. Snipped off dozens with scissors, as high as I could reach.

After drying my sumac harvest and rubbing the berries off the bobs, I ground it by hand with mortar and pestle.

Passed through a sieve to remove the seeds and stems, an amazing spice emerged.

This is the first time I've processed a spice. It reminds me of processing tobacco in the barn as a kid. So tactile, hands become sticky with dry sap, and it smells amazing.

I'm looking forward to trying the tart earthiness of sumac in many dishes this fall.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Thanks for perking my memories of elderberry-sumac tea, first noted in one of Euell Gibbons' books, back when I was new to Appalachia --tho, of course, sumac also grows in Massachusetts! it's rue, Sumac is s-o sticky!

I wonder how your dried sumac wd taste, in chili, and, actually, in "lemon" cookies...the list goes on.

Comment by adrianne Fri Sep 29 08:01:31 2017
for those of us in suburbia, sumac can be found in most middle eastern grocery stores. I love the spice, to me it tastes a lot like butter, so i use it sometimes to give a buttery taste to rice dishes without adding a lot of butter.
Comment by Rebecca Fri Sep 29 09:41:29 2017
Thank you for this post. I burn the berries in my smoker when working with the bees. Sumac is amazing.
Comment by K Wed Oct 4 07:33:40 2017

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