“Lip Sumac-ing Good” by Matthew D. Christianson

sm_sumac1What looks like a cranberry and tastes like a lemon?  It’s Sumac, which grows in warm subtropical temperate regions throughout the world and can be identified as any one of approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus Anacardiaceous.  Plants yielding clusters of Sumac berries are harvested, dried and crushed into a powder, which has a tart acidic fruity flavor and is considered essential to cooking many Middle Eastern dishes.  This spice dates back to before the Romans when it was used in dishes, prior to the introduction of lemons, to brighten the acidic flavors of a dish.  Sumac’s flavor is more subdued than that of a lemon, which makes its addition to food very pleasant and the deep red color makes for an attractive garnish to any plate. In the Mediterranean, Sumac is often added to salad dressings or rubbed on fish and meat as a marinade.   Other uses for this spice include a stomach-settling beverage made by adding the juice from crushed Sumac berries to sweetened cool water and dried Sumac berry flakes are often times blended with smoking tobacco to impart a rich fruity flavor.  Sumac is an extremely versatile spice that can be substituted anywhere where you might want a squeeze of bright lemon flavor, simply fresh and delightful!

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