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Forage: How to harvest wild sumac and use it to make a zingy batch of Sun Tea

Chef Shawn Adler shows how to identify — and transform — this vibrant plant we pass on the road.

Chef Shawn Adler shows how to identify — and transform — this vibrant plant we pass on the road

Chef Shawn Adler shows how to identify — and transform — this vibrant plant we pass on the road. 3:20

Anishinaabe chef Shawn Adler has been harvesting wild edibles since his mother first showed him how as a child. In each episode of Forage, he teaches us how to source in-season ingredients from our own backyards and sustainably forage them, before turning them into a delicious dish we can make and devour in our own kitchens.

If you’ve ever driven down a Canadian highway, chances are you’ve spotted some wild sumac on your travels. The plant, which boasts furry red cones full of tiny berries, grows abundantly along roadsides and is often used ornamentally in home gardens. And you might know that beyond its striking appearance, sumac carries a tart, lemon-like taste that adds incredible flavour to anything it touches. In this episode of Forage, chef Shawn Adler shows how to identify Rhus typhina, or Staghorn sumac, one of the most common varieties of sumac to grow within Canada. Then he shares a recipe that turns those findings into a refreshing summer beverage — one so zingy that it even rivals lemonade. Check out the video above for Shawn’s full guide, then scroll down to grab the recipe.

Sumac Sun Tea

By Shawn Adler

Sun tea is all about making it your own. Feel free to add additional ingredients or substitute the ones here.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 L cold water
  • 4 handfuls sumac cones, washed
  • 1 handful river mint, washed
  • 1 peach, chopped or ripped
  • 1 handful blueberries, crushed
  • 1 handful cherries, pitted and crushed

Preparation

Fill a large vessel with cold water. Add sumac and mint. Add peach, blueberries, cherries, or other fruit of your choosing. 

Stir to combine, then cover it and let steep in the sun for about 3 hours. Serve over ice.

For an adult version, feel free to add vodka or another spirit of your choice.

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