Namaste spice soul, so good to connect here. As I work to complete my Spice Deck and get it ready for publishing soon, I am immersed in the spices in a way that is energized with some serious magic. A mystical event is not really surprising when engaging with the spice medicines and yet it is always thrilling. A few days before, after I had finalized work on the Sumac Spice Card, I went for an evening walk with my beloved and we decided to take a different route than usual around the neighbourhood. I had an electric feeling in my body and I was thinking about Sumac.
After having poured through images of various types of Sumac that day, I felt a kinship with the tree and wondered when I would get to see one. I felt I had seen one before but had not introduced myself properly, if you know what I mean. Well, as we turned a corner just five blocks from our home in Vancouver BC, there it was, hard to see and barely lit on the new moon night. Even before I saw the flower-berries, I knew it was a Sumac just by the distinctive leaves. I experienced a slight bristle touching the furry berry-flowers that grow in almost conical shapes called drupes. The thought of a hairy berry doesn’t appeal, but of course the hairs are rubbed off before grinding the dried berries into a powdered spice. I reverently snapped off a drupe noting that the tree was adorned with plenty. Although this variety is mostly found in the Eastern part of North America, my find seems closest to Staghorn Sumac which feature velvety stems and pinkish-burgundy fluffy berries. Native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Sumacs are now found worldwide with multiple species in the Rhus genus within the Anacardiaceae family, which interestingly include cashews, mangos, and pistachios.
Messages from the natural world are not to be ignored and I consulted with the Sumac Spice Oracle Card to see what it was I needed to hear from this encounter. I will for sure be including this tangy spice in my food and beverage elixirs until the next new moon at least.
This sour and astringent berry is proven to have one of the highest antioxidant levels amongst all spices and fruits, even more than the deliciously nutritious and trending açai berry – made popular in smoothies and smoothie bowls. Antioxidants of course bring a host of anti-cancer, immune-boosting benefits, as well as being a blood cleanser, and all round heart tonic. The Sumac tree is also called the Lemonade or Vinegar Tree, and Sumac-ade is a well-loved drink made from the berries or the dried ground spice, it has the bright tart, refreshing effect that cools the Pitta fire and lightens Kapha heaviness as well as being a gentle digestive tonic.
SUMAC AS A SPICE-MEDICINE FOR THE LATE SUMMER SEASON:
A refreshing lemonade-like drink that is tart and sweet (with the addition of honey or maple syrup) and especially during a heatwave helps to cool the body and refresh the overheated, irritable Pitta mind.
YOU WILL NEED: 3 heaped TBSP of ground Sumac spice, 3 cups filtered water, 1-3 TBSP honey (sweeten to taste)
METHOD: Pour room-temperature filtered water over sumac in a large mason jar. Cover and steep overnight (8-12 hours). Strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth/filter. Add the honey to taste (you may add honey to 1/8 cup hot water first to dissolve, and then add. Add a slice of lime and a couple cubes of ice. Enjoy!
THIS incredible salty, tart, pungent, slightly sweet, savoury spice blend has adorned Middle Eastern dishes for centuries and is so easy to make and add to your daily aromanutrition. Full of nourishing rewards for your health, you can sprinkle lavishly on homemade pitta bread with olive oil, in salads, with yoghurt dips, on fruit, grilled veggies, the possibilities are endless – Za’atar goes with just about everything. The secret is the Sumac, and with the other herbaceous ingredients and a base of sesame seeds and salt, you get many essential vitamins and minerals in every serving. Make a nice big batch and keep for up to 3 months in a well-sealed jar. As we get ready for late Summer/early Fall, this calcium-rich blend is balancing to all body types when used as a condiment. Enjoy the Spice Mistress version of the classic Za’atar.
YOU WILL NEED: 3 TBSP ground sumac, 3 TBSP dried oregano, 1 TBSP roughly-ground cumin seed, 4 TBSP sesame seeds, 1 TBSP Dried thyme, 1 tsp rock/sea salt.
METHOD: Blend all spices, herbs and salt together, keep in airtight mason jar in a cool place.
VERY excitingly my 52 card Spice Deck and gorgeous companion booklet with Ayurvedic wisdom and kitchen medicine, is releasing on Kickstarter on September 20th on the Full Harvest Moon. How auspicious is that! I know many have been waiting for a long time for this and I have too : ) So much has happened to delay this beauty being born out into the world, but all good things are worth waiting for… stay tuned!
In the meantime acquire some real sumac spice (watch out for dyed imposters!) and get to know this magic bold spice – you have nothing to fear.
Spice Mistress, Glynnis xo