Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Most Delicious (and Free!) Summer Drink

When talking about foraging a few months ago, my aunt had mentioned a red cone that can be made into a strawberry lemonade-like drink.  She didn't remember what it was called, but it didn't take long for us to figure out.  Staghorn sumac (not poison sumac) is native to the US and produces red cones of berries in the summer.  There are tons of these trees on the side of highways near my house, but I was always leery of stopping on a busy roadway, especially with Miss F.  But I was thrilled today when I noticed a sumac during my outdoor exercise class.  I took Miss F back after class, and we cut two cones to try this experimental brew.

I put these two cones in about four cups of cold water and mushed the berries up a bit with my fingers.  The berries are hairy, and you need to get the flavoring off of them.  I let them sit for about an hour, and *B* strained off the lovely pink juice.

The juice is very sour.  Even *B*, who no longer uses sweetener in his drinks, had to add some maple syrup.  But with sweetener, a little extra water, and a bunch of ice, this is a fantastic and refreshing summer drink.  This lovely little concoction costs only 6 cents per glass or less depending on sweetener.

Tomorrow evening, when *B* is home with Miss F, I will be stopping on the side of the road to cut as many cones as I can.  The extract will be stored and used as a lemon substitute.  A local and frugal source of citric acid - who can ask for any better?!

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