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Sumac, a tangy spice that brightens dishes

Sumac or sumac (from the Arabic word summaq, meaning bright red) are several names for a spice that has the ability to add acidity to food without adding too much liquid. With a somewhat fruity flavor, it is a spice that pairs well with many culinary preparations.

Although it has long been used in Arabic and Middle Eastern cuisine, its use is beginning to gain popularity in our cuisine, thanks to the rise in popularity of foods from this geographic area in recent years.

What is sumac?

A quick internet search for sumac brings us closer to images of bushes of the genus rhus coriariafamily Anacardiaceae and a cluster of berries, a fruit corresponding to the edible part of the plant and similar in size to a pea.

Cluster-like in appearance, they are bright red fruits. When these berries are dried, they are ground into a coarse powder. These shrubs are found in temperate and subtropical climates such as the Mediterranean, Africa, Asia, and throughout North America.

In recent decades, its use has become popular among chefs around the world, thanks to its ability to adapt to a wide variety of tastes and recipes, from vegetarian to carnivore.

This ground powder, which can be mistaken for chili powder or paprika because of its dark red color, has nothing to do with the spicy taste; Moreover, it is comparable to lemon, although not as sour.

How is sumac used in cooking?

Sprinkled over rice, mixed into hummus, or used in marinades and salad dressings, sumac is a culinary staple of the Middle East. Along with cumin, nutmeg, cardamom and turmeric, it is one of the most commonly used spices in the field.

Prized for its versatility in the kitchen, its tangy lemon flavor gives this spice a variety of culinary uses, making it a great substitute for lemon or vinegar. Some of the main uses of sumac are:

Although sumac is easy to use, it’s important to use the right amount, one drop at a time. As with other spices, it is recommended to store sumac in an airtight container away from direct light to maximize shelf life.

Beneficial effects associated with sumac

In addition to these culinary properties, sumac has been linked to several health benefits:

There is a lack of scientific evidence to support these properties, so it should not be used as a priority treatment for the disease. And while it has a good safety record with no reported adverse reactions, its association with cashews and mangoes means that people with allergies to these foods should be cautious about consuming sumac.

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Source: El Diario


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