Sumac Lemonade- Rhus typhina, a late summer treat.

I’ve written a lot about sumac over the years, and my sumac jelly recipe is easily one of my more popular blogs. I usually don’t make “lemonade” with it, just jelly or process it into spice. This year, however, I thought I would try something new.

I have previously written about how the antioxidants are better released by heating the sumac, but I’ve also had to delete a lot of nasty comments over the years about “DOING IT WRONG!!!” by heating it. I thought I might as well give it a try as “lemonade” since I found a pretty decent haul of the R. typhina, (common name: Staghorn sumac). I thought if worse came to worse, after a cold process, I can always boil them and treat as usual.

Rhus typhina (sumac) fruit.

I’ve been drinking a lot of cold mint tea from my garden, and that gave me the idea of making an “Arnold Palmer” with sumac and mint tea. So here goes:


  • 2 pounds of sumac “fruits”
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 non-reactive food prep container
  • 1 non-reactive weight (like a salad plate)
Covering the fruit in cold water.


  • Place your sumac fruits in the bottom of a pot or food prep container.
  • Add 1 gallon cold water.
  • Place a plate over the fruit to keep it below the water surface.
  • Place in refrigerator to soak for 4 or more hours.
  • Strain liquid off.
Sumac soaking in the refrigerator.


Filtered cold sumac lemonade.

Well, it is definitely a weaker, milder version of the cooked liquid, which is somewhat lemony, but still more reminiscent of haw candy. It is rather good cold, but my mint tea totally overpowered it when I tried the Arnold Palmer. Definitely need a different sumac to tea ratio.

Tomorrow, I’m going to try sumac “tea.” Which is what I’m going to call the liquid after it has been boiled, then chilled. As soon as I strained it off for the lemonade, I put it in a stainless pot and boiled it for about 5 minutes. That is currently chilling on the refrigerator. I’m thinking I might get a second boil off it to make jelly, too, but that might be pushing my luck. I should probably go harvest more, but I have 20ish pounds of squash, elderberries, 15 pounds of mushrooms and close to the same in cucumbers to process, soooo, might just push my luck.

Sumac is a super easy to identify plant, and has many uses. High in vitamin c, which is important in the midwest, particularly in the winter when natural sources of vitamin c are scare. The fruits can be dried and stored for winter months to be used to stave off scurvy, and do all the things vitamin C does. The fruit is also packed with antioxidants. Rgus is an all around good plant to know and forage, with many uses.

Young Rhus glabra plant. Very distinctive shape and leaf structure.

Please leave a comment if you try sumac lemonade. How did you make it? What are your thoughts on the final product?


2 Comments Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s