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The inspiration for this recipe actually came from a seemingly unsuspecting breakfast item: a za’atar spice topped bagel. Tasting some of the tart and zingy flavors atop the bagel sent me down a curiosity hole about the flavors, which led me to realize that the sumac family (specifically Rhus coriraria) was the European cousin of the staghorn sumac, Rhus typhina, which I saw in abundance here in the US. Pairing this with my love of mezcal negronis, utilizing the tart, lemony and pleasantly bitter tones of the berries to make a homemade Campari just seemed like the logical next step. And of course, a negroni (or two) as the final conclusion.
Most people when seeing this plant first recognize its brightly colored, cone-shaped, red fruiting head of berries that distinctly point upward from the apex of the tree tip. Often, many assume this plant is invasive given how prolific it grows, as it can likely be found alongside highways, trails and in many urban and suburban parks. Fret not, the staghorn sumac is a small native, deciduous tree that is often found in dense clusters all across North America and fruits mature from August to October. Once you learn how to utilize these amazingly tart, sweet and tangy berries, you’ll never walk past a ripe stand again without cutting a few to take back to the kitchen and bar top.
Time to Make: 14 days
Also Works With: Chokecherries
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