Spotlight Spice: Sumac

Ground Sumac

Sumac (or Rhus coriaria) is a plant in the cashew family native to southern Europe. The plant produces a red fruit with a sour taste reminiscent of lemon or vinegar, which is dried and crushed into a powder commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking.

Sumac’s acidic, citrusy sourness makes it a great spice to have on hand. Use it in ways you might typically use a lemon. Add it to hummus and dips or sprinkle it over vegetables, meat (especially lamb, pork, or chicken), and fish. Some of our favorite AllSpice blends - Za'atar Blend and Shawarma Seasoning Blend - also feature sumac in their ingredient list.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “I thought sumac was poison…” you’re not wrong. While related, the poison variety is in a different genus than the edible variety, with the poison variety being common in the eastern half of the United States.

The edible variety is a real treat. Branch out of your culinary comfort zone and grab a jar to try the next time you pick up spices. You might be surprised to find it becomes a favorite in your spice rack!

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