20 Reasons You Should Keep Sumac in Your Pantry and Growing in Your Garden
When we think of herbs to use in our everyday cooking, sumac is rarely on the list. On the contrary, shrubs bearing the sumac fruit can line highways in North America and none realize the health benefits to be reaped from this sour tasting rather delicious produce of nature.
The shrubs are known to grow in great numbers in Africa, the Middle East and North America, though they can take root in most places around the world. The flowers are greenish, creamy white or red and the berry fruit forms dense clusters of reddish drupes that are then dried into a tangy purplish or maroon spice.
Though it is known to be a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, from the Arabic to Turkish dishes, North American natives use the berries for tea, to be drunk hot or cold and sweetened with maple syrup.
Note: Do not boil the berries as that will release tannic acid into the water, which you don’t want. Soak in cold water and filter the mixture through a double layer of cloth to remove the small hairs of the fruit.
Why exactly do the native tribes love this tea?
• It is antiemetic, antidiarrheal, antihemorrhagic
• It helps heal blisters and rashes
• It can be used as mouthwash
• It is great to fight colds, sore throat and tuberculosis
• It can be used to treat asthma and ulcers
• It is used as eye, ear and heart medicine
• It is used as a wash for STDs
Furthermore, the Natchez used sumac to treat boils.
Studies also point towards other benefits:
- One study has discovered that sumac has antimigratory activity which helps prevent and treat atherosclerosis, a deadly coronary artery disease. The tannin acid which is released by boiling the berries has been found to treat vascular smooth muscle cell migration.
- Another study points out the antioxidants found in the sumac berries and leaves, which can be used to treat osteoporosis and might also be a great base for joint disease therapy.
- An Iranian study has pointed out the antibacterial and antimicrobial benefits of the plant, which can be cultivated in poorer sectors of the world to boost income and health in society.
Sumac can be used in a variety of manners. In the Middle East, it is an essential component of za’atar and used in many dishes cooked. Furthermore, it makes for an amazing addition of sour to concoctions including yoghurt poured over it. Persians will shower it over rice and meat, greatly enhancing the taste and adding a tangy edge to stimulate the tastebuds. Native Americans will make either tea or lemonade with the berries initially soaked in cold water, since warm water will only make it bitter.
Attention: Keep away from the white berry sumac, as it is similar to poison ivy and can irritate the skin.