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All about Sumac the spice from east

Sumac is not widely known, sumac is an extraordinary spice that enhances the flavours of foods without overpowering them.  Sumac also spelled Sumach and in Middle-East is pronounced more like Somagh. Sumac is any one of approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus The fruits of the genus Rhus are ground into a deep-red or purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a lemony taste to salads or meat. It can play the same role as salt, but you have to use it more generously. Outside of Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, sumac is generally used ground. If the berries are whole, they should be opened and soaked in water for about 30 minutes; then the seeds can be placed in cheesecloth and squeezed to extract an aromatic liquid to use in cooking water or marinade. 

Sumac is a shrub whose leaves turn bright red in the fall, a bit like Canadian maples. Sumac produces berries whose color reflects their country of origin, ranging from brick red to brown and purple. The berries contain little brown seeds. Other parts of the tree are used to make varnish, laquer and other tannins.

 

persian kebab with sumaghBuying, storing and using;

Although it's best to buy whole seeds to preserve the flavour longer, but that is not a practical method here in the west. So the whole or ground, sumac seeds should be kept in a tightly closed container away from light and heat. 

Samac or Sumach is an integral ingredient in Persian Chelo-Kabob as well as lamb, veal or beef kebabs. It is now increasingly used in high end cooking by master chefs to spice Lam, Veal and Beef Kebab or barbecued with sometimes extremely sophisticated approach in creating a crust of salty and lemony flavour without using Salt and therefore exceptionally good for low salt diets. 

Sumac has a sour flavour and can be replaced by lemon in many recipes. For example in Lebanon and Syria it is used to flavour fish and seafood and salads. In Iraq and Turkey sumac is used in chicken, meatballs, kebabs and stews. Also in Iran and Georgia; it can be used to flavour stuffing, rice, legumes and breads.

It can also in general be combined with yogurt and herbs, it makes an excellent sauce or dip and it is an ingredient in zahtar, a typically Middle Eastern spice blend. The slight lemon taste of Sumac is similar to tamarind but without the bitterness. This is equally met with a herb flavour. In fact, there is even a hint of mild lavender in the aroma.

When the fruits of the genus Rhus are ground into a deep-red or purple powder, we see it used as a spice in mostly in Middle Eastern cuisine that suit the very lemony taste. O
ne can also add it  to salads or meat. Also, in Arab cuisine, it is used as a garnish on meze dishes such as hummus and is added to salads in the Levant. In Iranian (Persian and Kurdish) cuisine, sumac is a must to be added to rice or kebab. No restaurant is without it on a table. In Turkish cuisine, it is added to salad-servings of kebabs and lahmacun. Rhus coriaria is used in the spice mixture za'atar.

sumac or Sumach or SumaghEncyclopaedia: 

Sumacs are shrubs and small trees that can reach a height of 1–10 metres (3.3–33 ft). The leaves are spirally arranged; they are usually pinnately compound, though some species have trifoliate or simple leaves. The flowers are in dense panicles or spikes 5–30 centimetres (2.0–12 in) long, each flower very small, greenish, creamy white or red, with five petals. The fruits form dense clusters of reddish drupes called sumac bobs. The dried drupes of some species are ground to produce a tangy purple spice.

Sumacs propagate both by seed as well as spread by birds and other animals through their droppings, and by new shoots from rhizomes, forming large clonal colonies.

The word sumac traces its etymology from Old French sumac (13th century), from Medieval Latin sumach, from Arabic summāq (سماق), from Syriac summāq (ܣܘܡܩ) - meaning "red.

In North America, the Smooth Sumac (R. glabra) and the Staghorn Sumac (R. typhina) are sometimes used to make a beverage termed "sumac-ade," "Indian lemonade" or "rhus juice". This drink is made by soaking the drupes in cool water, rubbing them to extract the essence, straining the liquid through a cotton cloth and sweetening it. Native Americans also used the leaves and drupes of the Smooth and Staghorn Sumacs combined with tobacco in traditional smoking mixtures.

Species including the Fragrant Sumac (R. aromatica), the Littleleaf Sumac (R. microphylla), the Skunkbush Sumac (R. trilobata), the Smooth Sumac and the Staghorn Sumac are grown for ornament, either as the wild types or as cultivars.
The leaves of certain sumacs yield tannin (mostly pyrogallol-type), a substance used in vegetable tanning. Notable sources include the leaves of R. coriaria, Chinese gall on R. chinensis, and wood and roots of R. pentaphylla. Leather tanned with sumac is flexible, light in weight, and light in colour. One type of leather made with sumac tannins is morocco leather.

Sumac was used as a treatment for half a dozen different ailments in medieval medicine, primarily in Islamic countries (where sumac was more readily available than in Europe). An 11th-century shipwreck off the coast of Rhodes, excavated by archaeologists in the 1970s, contained commercial quantities of sumac drupes. These could have been intended for use as medicine, or as a culinary spice, or as a dye.
Some beekeepers use dried sumac bobs as a source of fuel for their smokers.

Toxicity and Taxonomy

Some species, such as Poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron, syn.Toxicodendron radicans), Poison oak (Rhus diversiloba, syn. Toxicodendron diversilobum) and Poison sumac (Rhus vernix, syn. Toxicodendron vernix), have the allergen urushiol and can cause severe allergic reactions. Poison sumac may be identified by its white drupes.

Mowing of sumac is not a good control measure, since the wood is springy, resulting in jagged, sharp pointed stumps when mowed. The plant will quickly recover with new growth after mowing. Goats have long been considered an efficient and quick removal method as they eat the bark, which helps prevent new shoots.

At times Rhus has held over 250 species. Recent molecular phylogeny research suggests breaking Rhus sensu lato into Actinocheita, Baronia, Cotinus, Malosma, Searsia, Toxicodendron, and Rhus sensu stricto. If this is done, about 35 species would remain in Rhus. However, the data are not yet clear enough to settle the proper placement of all species into these genera.
 
Recipe Ideas:

Here in EdenAromata we will bring you lots of recipe ideas in the recipe section of the site. but here is one that comes to mind: 

Cooking with Sumac produces simple, summery dish, and it is a brilliant way to get to know this gorgeous Middle Eastern flavouring. One can start with toasting split-open pitta bread in the oven until crisp, then break into shards. Mix chopped cucumber, tomato, spring onion and radish, and toss with a few salad leaves and some torn mint and flat-leaf parsley. Scatter the crisp bread pieces over the top, and then sprinkle over a dressing made with equal quantities of lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil mixed with one to two tablespoons of crushed sumac. Serve with mezze dishes, or at a barbecue.

Crushed sumac is available from Eden Aromata from August when the Store Opens, which packages its spices in sensibly small quantities. Sumac keeps pretty well (you can use it a good year after buying it, especially if you store it in the fridge), but it's at its fragrant, zesty best when fairly new.
 

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Restaurant show 2011

Eden Aromata has formally launched 'Saffron Olive Oil' at the Restaurant Show 2011 in Earls Court 2 (10 -12th October 2011)

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Restaurant show 2011

Eden Aromata presented the new and unique product 'Saffron Olive Oil' at the UK’s leading trade event for local, regional, national and international fine food and drink.

Restaurant show 2011
 
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