This week, we tried using Sumac for the first time. Staghorn Sumac grows wild all over the forests in our area. It's great for erosion control because it suckers under ground like crazy. In fact, I have been fighting back the invasion of sumac for the last 8 years! Sumac from across the road has been suckering into my yard and garden!
Why would someone want to eat sumac? Well - it's super high in vitamin C. In an emergency, fresh fruit might be scarce and you would not want to suffer from scurvy.
It's really easy to make a drink from sumac and it tastes remarkably like pink lemonade.
Here's what you do. Break off a few sumac flower heads (when they are full and red - not brown and not dried out!) Depending on the variety, they will probably look quite fuzzy.
Don't worry about bugs, spiders, dirt. If you have a choice, choose the cleanest looking flowers. If not, just grab a few and put them in a pitcher.
For our experiment I took 2 flower tops and 1/3 a pitcher of water. For a full pitcher, you would want about 6 flower heads.
Use COLD water. Put the flowers in the water and let it sit for about 4 hours. Then strain out the bits.
I did this in our french press so they bits are automatically strained (and any twigs, bugs, spider webs...)
Use only cold water because heat degrades vitamin C (so does light.)
This is something I would happily make in normal times and an emergency. It's not a good source of calories, but it is a good source of vitamins.
**Update - as the season goes on (and rain comes and goes) the berries hold less acid and start to hold more worms! It is not really worth gathering them by mid September. So get them early!