Staghorn Sumac Lemonade

Staghorn Sumac Lemonade
Chayse Jackson


Driving down the road, walking on the beautiful trails, and looking into the backyard I see my childhood. My thirst for Sumac Tea will not go away. The wait is finally over and the season for this “lemonade” is here! Many of you may be familiar with this velvety red bunch soaring over the treetops. With its wispy leaves, long wild limbs, that bloom beautiful deep red delicious cones. As a child, I grew up eating and drinking what mother nature offers us and loved learning the Native heritage.. Chaga mushroom, wild leaks, dandelions, cedar and especially in the heat of summer Sumac Tea. Working long farm hours called for sweet, refreshing tea that had many more benefits than just cooling you off. 
Health Benefits of our native Sumac berries include: supporting a healthy urinary tract and blood sugar levels. These plants are high in tannic acid and make them an astringent. They help heal cold sores, skin abrasions, they are high in Vitamin C and packed with antioxidants. 
So lets make this wonderful drink!
Staghorn Sumac Lemonade/Tea Recipe:
Find any Staghorn Sumac tree in your area AWAY from roads where pollution is highest. The berries are the sweetest at the end of the summer. I never pick them before the end of July, and tend to leave them until September. Make sure they are the velvety red clusters NOT white and shiny! This belongs to the poisonous sumac and should be avoided and never eaten. Snip the clusters near the stem and only take a few healthy bunches from a tree so we always are respecting nature and sustainable foraging.
Bring back your goods, and begin by scraping the berries off either with your thumb or a dull knife (think of it as corn on the cob). Gather your berries into a glass or metal bowl. Pour COLD water onto the berries and fully submerge them. 4 cones should steep in about a litre of water. 
Mix with a spoon and do not crush your berries or use hot water! This will make them bitter. Leave your mixture in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours. Strain this mixture through a cheesecloth or paper coffee filter. Add local raw honey, cane sugar or any sweetener of your choice! Serve over ice and enjoy!

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