Ever heard of it? When one thinks of Sumac", they normally think POISON! However that is not the kind of Sumac I am speaking of.
The kind of Sumac that I am talking about was used by Native American Indians. It can be used to make tea, Sumacade(like lemonade) , jelly or you can dry it as a spice. Add it to pepper for a lemon/pepper seasoning.
We just made our first batch of jelly with it. A tall tree like bush that was an impediment to me one day, is now a gold mine! Funny how seeing things for what they really are, changes your perspective!
That is part of the path of self sufficiency isn't it?
First lets talk about the safe, non poisonous type of Sumac. The clusters of berries are RED.
Second lets talk about the unsafe, poisonous type of Sumac. The clusters of berries are WHITE.
So, red good! White bad! There is a clear way to identify the difference...color!
Here is a picture of the Sumac that I use. Sumac has the flavor of a mild lemon juice. Sumac berries should be harvested before a big rain. The reason being, there are small hairs on the berries which affect the taste factor of the final product. A hard rain will wash this hair away and leave a bitter flavor. As well, too much boiling will do the same. I treat the Sumac delicately. Here is how I do it.
We harvest the red cone shape berry clusters by nipping off the entire head. I clean the cones by gently submerging them into a pot of cold salt water. Then again in clean water. Following this I put on a pot of water to boil. When it has come to a boil I turn it off. When it is done boiling and has cooled a bit, I plunge the cones in and let them steep. After a while I get a potato masher and help to extract the juice. After about , hmmm, who knows, I go off and do some things with one of the 9 children then come back:)......Not likely more than an hour. I then strain out all of the berries through a colander. Then, I strain it through a mesh strainer. THEN I strain through very fine mesh or tripled cheese cloth. Yes by the time I am done I have strained it three times to ensure that I have gotten every single little hair out of the juice. If you swallow one of these you will know it, as it is scratchy on your throat...I speak from experience:)
Now the following confession is not a recommendation as I would never want to contradict the experts (whoever they are) If you want to make Sumac jelly ''properly"then get a box of Sure Jell, follow the directions for Elderberry (minus the lemon juice) and make it like they say. The following is merely what I do...
I essentially double the recipe. I also only use bulk fruit pectin as it is cheaper by FAR. If you want to be REALLY self sufficient make up some apple juice to go with it and skip the powder pectin altogether. Ok so here is my DOUBLE recipe;
6 cups Sumac juice
9 cups sugar
10 T powder pectin (which is equivalent to two boxes)
Add the pectin to the juice and bring to a boil. (also add a bit of butter for foaming if you like. I do)
Dump in all the sugar, bring to a boil again and keep at a full rolling boil for 1 minute.
Water bath process for 5 minutes....wella! That will make 6 pints.
I would love to hear what you think about it! We love it and it must be good! They sell it for 9$ a pint online!