At the end of the summer months in Lebanon, the heavy clusters of deep red berries are collected from the rhus coriaria. This shrub grows throughout Lebanon and people who have it in their garden will prepare the spice for the winter, making enough to offer some to their neighbours in exchange for another ingredient. The berries are removed from their stalks and left to dry. Then they are rubbed to remove the skin from the stone. Care needs be taken as the berries are very astringent, so gloves are worn. The resulting mixture is sifted to remove the stones, and left once again to dry completely. This can then be ground to give a coarse texture before being carefully stored in airtight containers.
Sumac is a much loved spice in Lebanon. Its sharp lemony taste is essential sprinkled over fattoush, a central ingredient in za’atar and scattering it over fried eggs is a revelation.
During the summer months in Lebanon, the heavy clusters of deep red berries are collected and the berries removed from their stalks and left to dry for about 7-10 days. The berries are then rubbed to remove the skin from the stone. Care needs to be taken as the berries are very astringent. The resulting mixture is sieved to remove the stones. After being left to dry once, the sumac is crushed again before a being sieved one last time.
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