Thursday, August 21, 2014

MN Staghorn Sumac Lemonade and Kombucha!

Charlie has been thirsty for sumac tea ever since we discovered the possibility of a Minnesota grown lemonade. Great sweet and sour summer drink!

Here is how to identify:
Sumac is a beautiful plant. But one must be aware of that poisonous sumac does exist, once you learn how to easily differentiate between the edible and poisonous sumac you’re in for a summer-time treat!
Staghorn Sumac, which is not toxic to humans and is the best species for sumac lemonade, grows as a bush/tree like structure. The leafy stems are furry. Unlike poison sumac, the leaves have ridged edges. But, the easiest way to identify is to look for the staghorn’s unique flower/fruiting structure:

This structure is what you’ll use to make your tea! And handy for you, it isn’t found on any sumac except for the Staghorn, making identification a breeze
The fruits themselves, known as drupes, grow in clusters and are red, brown or magenta in color. Fruit is ready for picking mid-late summer. I have learned that the best way to know if the fruit is ready is by doing a quick taste with your tongue. Ripeness can vary between plants in the same area, or even between flowers of the same plant, so taste test each flower you pick! The fruit should taste a little sour and sweet comparable to pomegranate—not dull and chalky.
Poison Sumac can be identified by the smooth edges of the leaves. These leaves a generally shiny and stems are hairless. The fruit structure are very distinct, instead of staghorn structures the fruits grow in a grape-like structure.

Sumac Tea Kombucha
Items you’ll need

-Sumac Drupes (8 to 10 drupes)
-2 gallons of water Water
-Sugar (to taste)
-1 gallon of Kombucha tea*
-Bottles with sealed caps
Take the sumac drupes and soak in water. Let soak until the water turns a deep red color. Strain out the big drupes. Filter out the liquid with cheesecloth to gather all the extra drupes . Once strained, sweeten to your taste with sugar. Now you have Staghorn lemonade which could be enjoyed as is!

To ferment combine with kombucha tea after the tea has completed its first fermentation (see link below). Bottle the mixture and allow for a second fermentation process–this takes about 2 days. After the two days, move the unopened bottles to the frig. This slows fermentation to prevent the intensity of gas pressure from further building inside the bottles. Your sumac tea is now ready to enjoy!

*To make your own basic kombucha tea, please review here!

** WARNING: Always consult an expert or identification book written by an expert when eating wild plants. Do not eat any wild edible plant unless you are 

100% certain of its identification

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