Thursday, October 10, 2013

Harvest Recipe: Sumac Jelly

One of the things I miss the most about not living in the northern part of the US is the annual fall sumac fruiting.  I love these things!  It is often called "Indian Lemonade," and for good reason, these little berries are tart as all get out, but sweeten up very nicely.  They have been described as tasting like lemon strawberries.  They have multiple uses as well; basically anything that you can use lemon for can be replaced with sumac.  They make a great jelly!  For the most part, all recipes for jellies are pretty much the same; but just to give credit where it is richly deserved, this particular one comes from a great native cookbook entitled Native Indian Wild Game, Fish & Wild Foods, by the ladies at the Lovesick Lake Native Women's Association.  To be clear here, we are talking about the Rhus family and should not be confused with Poison Sumac, which is of a different genus and not easily confused with true sumac.

Sumac Jelly

2 quarts crimson sumac heads
Water 3 cups apple juice
1 pkg. pectin crystals
9 cups sugar

1.  Wash sumac, cover with water, bring to boil and simmer about 15 minutes. Strain the the juice. Should make about 5 cups of clear crimson sumac juice. 

2.  Combine sumac juice, apple juice and pectin crystals, turn heat up and stir until mixture comes a boil.  Then stir in sugar and bring to a rolling boil for a minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and skim off foam.  Pour into sterilized jars and seal.


  1. It is refreshing to find someone else who knows that Sumac is good for you. I grew up drinking a tonic made with sumac as part of the drink. I'm pleased to find this jelly recipe and will be using it in the near future! Thank you!!!

  2. I was really looking forward to making this recipe as i have used sumac for other things. However after my first attempt i realized i made a mistake. When reading the ingredients, i mistook 2 quarts sumac heads for 2 quarts of it as a liquid form so my jelly never set and stayed in a liquid form. You may want to change it to say sumac concentrate or sumac as a liquid to prevent others from making the same mistake i did.