Keen to revamp your spice collection? While you may have seen sumac listed in some recipes, few people know its nutritional benefits and all the many ways it can be used. Discover everything there is to know about this underappreciated spice below…
So, what is sumac?
Sumac is a type of spice that’s native to the Mediterranean region. It’s made by grinding down the bright red berries found on Rhus Coriaria shrubs and has a unique citrusy taste which effortlessly compliments a whole range of dishes and sauces.1
While sumac has been used for centuries in its native region and the Middle East, it remains one of the most underused spices.
In addition to adding a tart flavour to food, sumac is also brimming with goodness. Here are just a few of the potential health benefits of adding more of it to your food2:
It contains healthy fats
Sumac has been studied for its fat content, with the majority of it being oleic acid and linoleic acid. These are known as healthy fats, with benefits including supporting the heart health and maintaining the skin.
Sumac is rich in several antioxidants
Like many herbs and spices, sumac is a source of several antioxidants. These are compounds which help the body fight off free radicals which can cause oxidative stress and ultimately lead to cell damage.3
It’s a source of dietary fibre
Sumac is thought to contain a fair amount of fibre. This substance is essential for maintaining a healthy gut and ensuring good digestion.
Are there any potential sumac risks?
Most people shouldn’t have an issue with using sumac in their cooking. Nevertheless, the plant is closely related to cashew nuts and mangoes, meaning people who have allergies should avoid sumac.4
Another thing to be aware of (although only if you plan on cultivating sumac yourself) is the difference between regular sumac and poison sumac. As its name suggests, the latter is harmful to eat. You can tell the difference as poison sumac tends to have white berries, while sumac that’s safe to eat has red berries.5
How to use sumac
Not sure what pairs well with sumac? Here’s just a handful of ideas on how to use this zesty spice in your kitchen6:
- Use it as an everyday condiment alongside salt and pepper.
- Add it to homemade hummus instead of lemon juice.
- Sprinkle a little into a salad dressing.
- Marinade veggies in it and then roast them in the oven.
- Whip some into feta cheese and use it as a baked potato (or sweet potato) filling.
Due to sumac’s lemony flavour, it can often be used instead of lemon or lime in many recipes.7 Want to add some to your kitchen cupboard? Shop our full range of herbs, spices and seasonings.
Last updated: 13 April 2021