And from the desert we head back east…
Yesterday we gathered staghorn sumac, to make a lemonade-type of drink for the kids from Pittsburgh’s Student Conservation Association (SCA) to sample on their walk today. (I’ll post more pictures and information about all we saw on the walk early next week.)
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) grows in bright red clusters on a shrub or small tree (which spreads “like a weed!”) The staghorn sumac has think, densely hairy branches and twigs (giving the appearance of a stag’s horn.) You can pick the fruit clusters in summer, fall, even into winter, as long as they are still vibrant red. They are high in Vitamin C (so we use cold water when making the lemonade, so as not to destroy the vitamin) and have a sour lemony taste. They can also be dried and used as a lemony spice, common in Middle Eastern recipes.
Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) has white fruit, please avoid all white fruited sumacs!
Here is how we made the lemonade. It’s very simple:
Above are the sumac clusters on the table, and below I’ve put them in a jar.
Fill the jar with cold water (cold water preserves the vitamin C) and let it sit overnight. In the morning, strain and add sweetener like honey, agave nectar or maple syrup to taste. You could leave out the sweetener as well, it tastes refreshingly sour, like lemon water.
The walk today was so much fun! The kids (and adults) were great - a wonderful enthusiastic group. I’m excited to share with you all we saw!
~ Melissa Sokulski
Food Under Foot
**If you want more information about scheduling a wild edibles walk for your group, check our wild events page. Or you can call Melissa Sokulski at (412) 381-0116, or email to Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com. Thanks!**