About Ground Sumac
The sumac spice is known for its tart, astringent flavor and is used most often in Middle Eastern cuisines. Sumac is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean (ours is cultivated in Turkey). You can also find it growing wild in North America.
Ground sumac goes well with many meat dishes including chicken, beef, lamb, and fish. It is a key ingredient in the Middle Eastern spice blend Za’atar. Use it to season your kebabs, roasted vegetables, or bean dishes. It can also be used as a garnish for salads, fried eggs, hummus, flatbreads, baba ghanoush, rice dishes, and fresh melons. Mix your ground sumac with greek yogurt to make a lovely sauce that works well with kebabs, roasted carrots, grilled eggplant and more.
The sumac plant is a shrub or small tree with red-colored flowers that grow in dense panicles (clusters). The fruit of the sumac tree comes in reddish drupes (also called sumac bobs) — this is what’s used to produce the sumac spice.
Sumac has been used for centuries as a spice and for medicinal purposes. It is also used as a leather tanning agent and a dye coloring. In fact, wet sumac becomes a powerful purple dye that can penetrate marble, so be sure to wipe it off marble countertops as quickly as possible.
Which sumac is edible?
There are two types of sumac, red and white. Red sumac (Rhus coriaria) is the edible species of sumac. White sumac (Rhus vernix, or Toxicodendron vernix) can cause severe allergic reactions, which is why it’s referred to as “poison sumac”. White sumac is found exclusively in North American and is closely related to poison ivy and poison oak. But don’t worry, the visual difference between white sumac berries and red sumac berries is pretty obvious.