Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sumac Recipe - Sumac Meringue

We start this recipe by gathering the red, ripe berry clusters from staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) shrubs. The berries are actually very hard and inedible, and it is the acidic and tart malic, oxalic, and ascorbic acids that we will be harvesting from the outside of the berries to use. In about a half gallon of room temperature water, we add 12 clusters. I'll crush the clusters up under the water and swish them about, then allow the concoction to sit for a few hours. The now pink liquid is strained through a coffee filter to remove fine hairs and other debris, and tasted for tartness. To make a stronger concentrate, add some new sumac berry clusters to this same liquid and allow them to sit for another few hours, then strain again. This concentrate is ready to use, or can be frozen in ice cube trays to add to water or save for the winter. We also use this concentrate in the place of lemon juice in some jelly recipes.

Staghorn sumac berries
This dessert is more of a curd topped with baked meringue, rather than a pie, since Robert doesn't really like pie crust. The curd recipe is really easy, no tempering the eggs with the hot sugar, just keep a vigilant eye on the pot and keep scraping the bottom with a spatula. It works really well in individual portion dishes, or can be cooked in one 9" pie pan. You could serve it as a pie, if you use a pie crust. The color will depend on the strength of the sumac concentrate that you use. I ended up with a nice peachy color, but you could add a drop of red food color if you wanted to.

Sumac Meringue                  makes 8 ramekins, or 1-9" pie

1 1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cornstarch
1 c. cold water
1 c. sumac concentrate
5 egg yolks
1 T butter

5 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 c. plus 2 T sugar

1. Heat the oven to 375°F.
2. To make the curd, whisk the sugar with the cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add the water, sumac concentrate, and yolks, and whisk until smooth.
3. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook slowly, stirring often with a silicone spatula. The curd will thicken, and allow it to come to a slow boil. Boil the curd for 1 minute, whisk in the butter, then pour into the ramekins or pie plate.
4. To make the meringue, whip the 5 egg whites with a mixer until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, and whip until soft peaks form. Slowly pour in the 1 c. plus 2 T sugar, and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
5. Scoop the meringue over the hot curd, trying to cover it completely. Bake for 14-18 minutes, until evenly golden brown. Cool, and refrigerate.

Smooth sumac berry clusters


Anonymous said...

Can you freeze the Clusters for later use?

The 3 Foragers said...

We have not tried freezing the clusters, your fridge and freezer are humid places, and you want to keep the clusters dry. We have picked clusters and kept them in a plastic bag in a dark, cool place with success.

Anonymous said...

I have a vacuum pack...Would that make a diff.?
How long were you able to keep them in a plastic bag?

The 3 Foragers said...

I think a vaccuum packed bog would be fine. Ours was just in a plastic grocery sack, and they were still tart a few months after we collected them

EM said...

Wow! We are gonna try that meringue recipe, thanks!

Joseph Guy said...

Thanks, I am going to try to make jelly. I'l let you know how it went...

Kate/ Beyond the Brambles said...

Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed this post so much that I linked to it in the blog carnival (Berry Go Round) I'm hosting this month over at Beyond the Brambles!

Joseph Guy said...

Well the jelly turned out in sirop when warm and jelly when cold...go figure...but it's good on pancake....

Berlin Plants said...

so excited to see this post! we just wrote about sumac in our new blog (berlinplants.wordpress.com) and we love drinking sumac lemonade in the summer.... but next time i will try your dessert recipe instead!