All About Sumac | Know Your Spice Sumach (Rhus coriaria)

Sumac & Za'atar Spice

All About Sumac | Know Your Spice Kankrasing or Sumak (Rhus coriaria)

Sumac is also spelt as Sumak, Sumack, Sumach, or Summac (Rhus coriaria)

All About Sumac | Sumac is also spelt as Sumak, Sumack, Sumach, or Summac (Rhus coriaria)

The dried fruits of some Sumach species are ground to produce a tangy, crimson spice popular in many countries. This spice is quite sour.

The fruit are ground into a reddish-purple powder which is used in savoury cooking in the same way as Sumak (sumac berries).

What are the other names of Sumac?

Sumac names in other languages are given below.
Indian Languages
Other Languages
Bengali: Kankrasringi
Punjabi: arkol or titri
Tamil: karkhadagachingi
Telugu: karkkararingi
Latin: Rhus coriaria
English: Elm-leafed Sumac
German: Gewürzsumach
Farsi: Somagh
Italian: Sommacco
Greek: soumaki
Spanish: Zumaque

What exactly is a Sumac?

Get to know about Sumac

Spice card – all about sumac (rhus coriaria) sumach

Sumac is a variety of flowering shrub that belongs to a family of plants known as Anacardiaceae.

Its scientific name is Rhus coriaria. Other common members of this family include cashew and mango plants.

There are more than 250 different species of sumach, all of which belong to the genus Rhus. It is the largest genus in the family Anacardiaceae.

However, Rhus coriaria — or Syrian sumak — is the variety people most frequently cultivate for culinary use and herbal medicine.

Sumach is used as a spice throughout the Middle East, and its use has also spread to the Iberian peninsula. It is also provided as a condiment to be sprinkled on food at the table.

What is the botanical description of Sumac?

Botanical information of Sumac

Botanics – Sumac is characterized by the large, dense clusters of bright red, pea-sized fruit it produces. These clusters are called sumac bobs.

The whole fruit appears in dense clusters. Individual berries are small, round, 10 mm (1/4”) in diameter, russet coloured and covered with hairs.

The dried fruits of Rhus coriaria are ground to produce a tangy, crimson spice popular in many countries.

The genus Rhus is the genus of shrubs and small trees belonging to the Anacardiaceae or cashew family native to temperate and subtropical zones.

Rhus coriaria is the scientific name of Sumac, which is a flowering shrub or a small tree.

It can grow up to ten meters in height & propagates both by seed and by new roots that propagate underground called rhizomes.

Sumach bushes grow from seed, root cuttings, or suckers. The berries grow in clumps and are ready for harvest in late summer and early fall.

What is the nutrition value of Sumac?

Know the nutritional value of Sumac or Sumach

Analysis found that nutritionally dried sumac is made up of approximately 71% carbs, 19% fat, and 5% protein.

The majority of the fat in sumach comes from two particular types of fat known as oleic acid and linoleic acid.

Chemical analysis of fresh sumak fruit found that over 14% of it is made up of fiber.

It also contains at least trace amounts of several essential nutrients, including vitamins C, B6, B1, and B2

What is the chemical composition of Sumac?

Know and understand about chemical composition of sumach.

A study on the chemical properties of sumak fruit was conducted on ripe fruits.

The study found a 2.6% protein content, 7.4% fat content, 14.6% fiber content, 1.8% ash.

Also, a calorimetric calculation showed that 100g of sumac fruit contains 147.8 kcal.

The acid content contains malic, citric, and tatric acid plus smaller amounts of succinic, maleic, fumaric and ascorbic acid.

An Iranian study found the following as primary constituents of Sumach

  • 78 hydrolysable tannins, 59 flavonoids, 9 anthocyanins
  • isoflavonoids, terpenoids, diterpene & 38 other unidentified compounds

    What is the history of Sumac?

    Know more about the origins & the story behind Dry sumac berries or Sumach or sumac berries

    First brought to North America by European colonists, who in turn acquired the plant from the Middle East, where it originated, sumac has a long history of use as a spice.

    Sumach is a native of the Middle East. Everything points out that it was the Arabs who took it to the Iberian Peninsula for industrial purposes, to be used in tanning leather.

    Over 2,000 years ago, Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides referred to sumac’s health properties. Sumak was used in classical Rome, before the introduction of the lemon.

    Dioscorides served in Roman Emperor Nero’s armies as a physician, pharmacologist, and botanist.

    Native to the Middle East, sumach has been used throughout the region for centuries in a plethora of ways.

    In ancient Greek and Roman times, sumak was used to dye wool and tan leather. It was also used in alternative medicine for its believed antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.

    Sumach remains a key ingredient in many Turkish, Iranian, Syrian and Lebanese dishes.

    North American natives (Indians) used two native species of sumac—Rhus glabra and Rhus aromatica—to prepare a concoction similar to beer.

    What are the uses of Sumac?

    How is the Sumac plant used?

    Sumac as food & beverage flavouring

    The fruits (drupes) of Rhus coriaria are ground into a reddish-purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a tart, lemony taste to salads or meat.

    In Afghan, Armenian, Bangladeshi, Indian, Iranian, Mizrahi, and Pakistani cuisines, sumac is added to rice or kebab.

    In Azerbaijani, Central Asian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Turkish cuisines, it is added to salads, kebab and lahmajoun.

    In North America, the smooth sumac (R. glabra) and the staghorn sumac (R. typhina) are sometimes used to make a beverage termed “sumac-ade”, “Indian lemonade”, or “rhus juice”.

    Sumac as a tanning agent

    The leaves of certain sumacs yield tannin (mostly pyrogallol-type), a substance used in vegetable tanning. Leather tanned with sumac is flexible, light in weight, and light in color.

    One type of leather made with sumac tannins is morocco leather. It was believed:

    “When sumac dust settles on white marble, the result is not immediately apparent, but if it once becomes wet, or even damp, it becomes a powerful purple dye, which penetrates the marble to an extraordinary depth.”

    Sumac in traditional medicinal

    Sumac was used as a treatment for several different ailments in medieval medicine, primarily in Middle Eastern and South Asian countries

    Sumac as fuel

    Some beekeepers use dried sumac bobs as a source of fuel for their smokers.

    Sumac for smoking pipes

    Sumac stems also have a soft pith in the center that is easily removed to make them useful in traditional Native American pipemaking.

    Natives commonly used the pipe stems in the northern United States.

    What does Sumac taste like?

    What is the the taste of Sumac?

    sumac berries has a subtle, resin-like taste. It is tangy or sour yet sweet to taste. It should be used when only a hint of tartness is desired.

    What can I use Sumac for?

    Learn how to use Sumac or Sumach in your food & beverages.
    • You can sprinkle it atop basmati rice, grain salads, pita chips, or any type of flatbread.
    • Sumac Hummus – Traditional chickpea hummus garnished with sumac for an acidic tang.
    • Cucumber Sumac Salad – Chopped cucumbers, feta, and mint dressed in olive oil, red wine vinegar, sumac, salt, and pepper.
    • Fattoush Salad – A traditional Lebanese dish of toasted pita, mixed greens tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs tossed in a sumac vinaigrette.
    • Condiment – Sumac is often put on the table in shakers or bowls, especially in kebab houses, and is used like salt and pepper.
    • Make Za’atar – Sumac is mixed with sesame seeds, salt and thyme to make the popular spice mix called za’atar.
    • As a seasoning for fried and barbecued meat.
    • Use as a dip for breads when combined with olive oil.
    • As a marinade used to increase the acidity in yogurt sauces or vinaigrettes.
    • For the enhancing taste and flavour of egg dishes and salads.
    • Make a beverage known as sumac-ade, Indian lemonade or rhus juice.

    How long does Sumac last?

    Learn about how long does Dry sumac berries last in storage.

    If properly stored in a cool, dry place, sumac has a shelf life of about two years.

    It won’t taste worse after that point, but the sumac will certainly lack the bold and powerful flavour that it once possessed.

    How do I store Sumac?

    Learn about how to store Sumac or Dried sumac berries.

    For the best results, keep Sumac stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator drawer as usual. You can also store it as you would other spices in a dark, dry space away from heat & moisture.

    Is there a substitute for Sumac?

    Learn how to use a substitute for Dry sumac berries or Sumach if unavailable

    If you need to replace Sumac powder in cooking then your best options are za’atar, lemon or lime juice, tamarind, citric acid, vinegar, loomi, or amchur.

    Each of these ingredients is useful for adding a citrusy, tart flavor to meals.

    Remember to use substitutes in small amounts and test the food if you can before adding more. This step will reduce the chance of ruining the dish with unpleasant, awkward flavors.

    Where do I buy Sumac from?

    Where to Locate Sumac in the Grocery Store?

    You can buy Sumac in most grocery stores as well as online.

    What are the health benefits of Sumac?

    Learn about health benefits of Sumac or Rhus coriaria

    Health Benefits of Sumac (Rhus coriaria) or Benefits of Sumach

    • Health Benefits of Sumach Nutritionally – Sumac contains a host of beneficial nutrients. These include fiber, healthy fats, and some essential vitamins.
    • Health Benefits of Sumac as Antioxidant – Sumac contains a wide array of chemical compounds with potent antioxidant activity, including tannins, anthocyanins, and flavonoid
    • Health Benefits of Sumach for Diabetes – Some research suggests sumac may be an effective tool for managing blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
    • Health Benefits of Sumac for Alleviating Pain –Sumac contains a variety of nutrients and antioxidants that may play a role in lowering blood sugar and alleviating muscle pain.
    • Health Benefits of Sumach for Heart Health The concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid in heart, kidney and brain cell tissue was increased with supplementation of thyme.
    • Health Benefits of Sumach for Digestion – Sumac herb is helpful in the treatment of common digestive disorders, including stomach upset, acid reflux, constipation, feverish symptoms, and irregular bowel movements.
    • Health Benefits of Sumac for Cancer – Some studies have shown that the sumac plant has anti-cancer properties.
    • Health Benefits of Sumach as an Antimicrobial – Sumac has been found to work against a number of pathogens, including Salmonella bacteria.
    • Health Benefits of Sumach for Common Respiratory and Digestive IssuesThe Sumach herb has been widely used to treat chest and respiratory issues including cough, chest congestion and bronchitis for a very long time.

    Sumac Spice | Make Sumac Spice at Home from Dried Sumac Berries

    Sumit Malhotra
    Sumac Spice | How to Make Sumac Spice at Home from Dried Sumac Berries - Sumac is a spice used mainly in middle eastern cooking. It adds a sour note and a beautiful red color to food, much like lemon peel adds sourness and yellow. 
    5 from 2 votes
    Prep Time 10 d
    Cook Time 10 mins
    Total Time 10 d 10 mins
    Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
    Servings 5 Servings
    Calories 7.6 kcal


    • 5 Cup Sumac berries
    • Sunlight


    • Let Sumac berries dry in a cool dark place for 10 days.
    • Put the sumach berries in a food processor, or blender.
    • You will now knock off the dry fruit off of the seed.
    • Pulse them in the blender for a while until the seeds are mostly yellow.
    • There will be a red dust separated from the seeds. That's your spice.
    • Put the mixture through a mesh colander to remove the seeds.
    • All that remains is your sumac spice.


    • 1 cup of sumac berries makes about 1 1/2 teaspoons of spice.
    • Collect the clusters during a dry period, as rain may wash out the acid that makes them sour.
    Keyword Homemade Sumac Spice, Make Sumac Spice, Sumac, Sumac Spice

    Tools & Equipment Used For This Recipe

    The links below the image lead to product links on & respectively

    FInally! To Sum It Up

    All About Sumac (Rhus coriaria) | Benefits of Sumac

    Spice card – all about sumac (rhus coriaria) sumach

    All About Sumach | Sumac is also spelt as Sumak, Sumack, Sumach, or Summac (Rhus coriaria)

    The dried fruits of some Sumac species are ground to produce a tangy, crimson spice popular in many countries. This spice is quite sour.

    The fruit are ground into a reddish-purple powder which is used in savoury cooking in the same way as Sumac (sumac berries).


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    This article has been compiled for general information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition/s.

    This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but offers no warranty as to its accuracy or its use in any possible form.

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    Javed Iqbal 18 July 2021 - 2:37 PM
    Is the grounded sumac spice also used on the cooked food on the dining table to add flavour.
    Sumit Malhotra 18 July 2021 - 6:17 PM
    Hi Javed, Yes! You can use it for dusting or garnishing cooked dishes and get that tart, citrusy flavour. Best, Sumit
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