The Case for Sumac – Rhus typhina

I recently had a conversation with a coworker about the stand of staghorn sumac behind my home.  She asked if I used it in cooking.  I said no but  was aware that a cultivar of  sumac  was used generously in  Middle Eastern cooking. 

My primary reason for its continued cultivation was as a food source for those who share the gardens

Bluebird on sumac

Downy Woodpecker on sumac

American robin

and the visual appeal they provide for the human creatures who wander through.

Sumac Reflrctions

Sumac on the back slope

But if you’re wondering about sumac as a spice…

Sumac is a shrub which grows wild in the Mediterranean region, and this sumac is not toxic or poisonous. This non-poisonous variety also grows in other areas around the world and can be a colorful addition to home landscaping.Ground sumac is a dark red-burgundy color. As a dried berry, ground sumac has a nutty texture when used dry. It has a tart, sour lemon taste.

Using Sumac:

The use of sumac came to Greece from the Middle East where it is more widely used. In Greek cooking, sumac is used as a rub for grilled meats, and as a flavoring most notably on meats, in stews, and in pita wraps. It is also used in rice and vegetable dishes. Try adding a dash to the top of humus for a new taste treat.  from: greekfood.about.com
Oak leaf and Sumac berry
Sumac berry on pin oak leaf
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11 thoughts on “The Case for Sumac – Rhus typhina

  1. Just had a friend with Middle Eastern roots send me sumac as I was cooking from Ottolenghi, the new cookbook from the famous Lobdon restaurant of the same name and some recipes required it. He has a great beet, fennel and feta salad using sumac. Thanks for the education on how it grows

      1. It was delicious even without the sumac and now I will make it again. I added grilled shrimp to mine to turn it into a meal. Did you get the iris painting picture I sent? I’m still learning on my ipad!

  2. How very interesting…thanks for adding another layer of info about something I only appreciated for its colorful looks. The pictures are delightful.

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