I didn’t need any more reasons to love the staghorn sumac tree. I love that in spring its limbs are coated with velvety fur, like a freshly antlered deer. Long fern-like leaves emerge, then gorgeous red cones that keep their colour and beauty as the leaves turn to autumn red and orange. In early winter when the leaves have fallen it is perfectly elegant, bare stretching branches topped with those same red bracts providing a perky splash of colour against a snowy backdrop.
So when I saw a glass of what looked like pink lemonade on my friend Angie’s facebook page with the label “Sumac-Ade” I was greatly intrigued. Supposedly she had made it from the cones of the sumac tree! It was late at night but I found my sumacs by flashlight and snapped off a few flower clusters. I made a little batch of the most delicious drink you could imagine just by soaking the berries in cold water and adding a little sugar. It’s sour like lemonade but with a distinctive taste.
6-8 Sumac Cones
Cold water to cover
Sugar or Maple Syrup to taste
Shake off any insects on the cones and place them in a large pot. Crush and break the cones apart and cover with cold water. Let sit for an hour, then strain. Add a little sweetener and serve over ice.