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Jan 3, 2013 11:41 PM


What is it and where can I find it?

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  1. Various varieties of sumac grow through out the world. From a culinary perspective, the ground fruit is used extensively in Middle Eastern cooking. The flavor is similar to a mild lemon juice or vinegar but less acidic.

    You should be able to find it in any Middle Eastern grocery. Spice companies such as Penzeys carries it. On occasion I see it at natural foods stores that have a good bulk spice selection.

    2 Replies
      1. re: shaebones

        It's more like powder (it's the ground up dried fruit of the plant) and is a deep red-ish brown colour.

        1. re: nofunlatte

          +1 (or actually 2)

          I've ordered from penzey's many times. They are reliable and fair about pricing, imo.

          And. it is very lemony tasting. I often use it in place of lemon in savory dishes.

          1. re: thymetobake

            Yup, get mine from Penzey's as well. Love the tart taste - adds a nice tang to rubs, etc.

        2. It's also the primary component of Za'atar.

          7 Replies
          1. re: ferret

            My za'atar is mostly thyme, secondly sesame seeds. Sumac is not anywhere near primary.

            1. re: ferret

              Za'atar is generally composed mostly of herbs (thyme, oregano and/or marjoram) & sesame seeds with a small amount of salt. Sumac is a component, and some regions add more than others, but it's by no means the primary ingredient.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                It's the primary ingredient in the Penzey's version of it. Mr. Rat got me a box of Penzey's spices for Christmas and among them was a four ounce (!!) bag of the Zatar. Now THAT'S gonna take a while to use up.


                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                  Wow. It's unusual to use that much sumac - the tartness/astringency can overwhelm the other flavors. But as long as you're enjoying it, that's all that matters!

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I'm kind of not enjoying it honestly, because of all the sumac. That's why I said it's going to take a while to use it up.

                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                      Maybe you can doctor it up to make it more palatable - add more of everything else to balance it out?

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Yeah, seriously. I have actually been rationing my za'atar with a good balance because all I can get locally is "green za'atar" - thyme, sesame seeds, no sumac. Maybe you can find some to balance yours out?

            2. Readily available in Middle Eastern shops. And, presumably, online spice suppliers who deliver to whereever you are in the world.

              It's a powder made from the berries. Very citrussy. I sprinkle it on salads, like fattoush, as well as n ingredient in other Eastern Mediteranean dishes.