Introduction: How to Make Sumac Verjuice

Picture of How to Make Sumac Verjuice

Verjuice is a wonderful addition to any kitchen. Used mainly in French and Middle Eastern cuisines, verjuice adds a refreshing tartness without the bitterness that can be found in citrus juice or vinegar. It has a place in anyones kitchen. Verjuice can even be used to make a thirst quenching drink.

Verjuice is typically made from unripe grapes or crabapples. We are going to use sumac berries, which will give a beautiful red juice that can be used wherever a touch of acid is needed, whether to make vinegrettes, or deglazing pans, you will find dozens of uses for your verjuice.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is rougejuice. (verjuice translates to green juice, while rouge juice translates to red juice.

Step 1: Collect Sumac Berries and Soak Them

Picture of Collect Sumac Berries and Soak Them

Warning: Do not eat any wild edibles unless you are sure of their identity.

Sumac is a fairly common plant thoughtout much of the eastern and midwestern U.S. It is a shrubby tree and easily identifies by its red berries in clusters above the foliage. These fruit clusters are what we are after to make our verjuice.

Don't be too worried about poison sumac, for while they share a name, poison sumac has white berries, not the red ones of staghorn or smooth sumac. Always positively identify wild foods, but sumac is one of the easier ones to identify.

You want to collect the clusters after a long dry period, as rain can wash off the acid that we are after. Collect several bunches, leaving the large stems behind. A few small stems are not going to hurt anything.

Place your berries in a pot of lukewarm water. Water that is hot will absorb too much tannin which makes it astringent (like overbrewed tea), while cold water takes a lot longer to collect the acid off of the berries.

Rub the berries between your fingers or stir vigorously. Let them steep in the water for 10 or 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain them through a colander or sieve, and collect the water.

Step 2: Strain Your Berries Out

Picture of Strain Your Berries Out

Collect the red water that drains off, and you have your verjuice. The lovely red color is all natural, and you will find it refreshingly tart. Refrigerate it if you are not going to use it immediately, or freeze it in an ice cube tray for longer storage.

Use this in any way that you would otherwise use vinegar or lemon juice. A dash on fish is better than a squeeze of lemon. Pour a little into a pan after sauteing chicken, and you can make a delicious quick sauce.

Or add simple syrup and soda water, or sugar and regular water and you have a thirst quencher that is high in vitamin C.

So go wild, you have a brand new ingredient to play with. We will be posting new recipes to use the verjuice soon.

Enjoy and live a hands on life.


SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-23

Here I have 36 g of tannic acid in the form of 90% Pyrogallol. Here 20% of the tannic soluble equals 7.2 g pyrogallol. However only 1 g per 1.3 ml dissolves at 20 degrees C.

1.0 grams pyrogallol/1.7 ml * 175 ml = 102.9 g in 175 ml. (Max).

7.2 g*0.90 = 6.48 g pyrogallol.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-23

Here are two pictures. One is 25 grams of calcium carbonate added to the sulfuric acid. The ph was near 7.1. The other pic is the filtered final solution in two days of boiling near 80 to 100 degrees C.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-23

Here is a image of the solution turning dark purple pink while boiling.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-23

Athough 5%-1% = 4% We round 3.7% to 4%. So 3.7 to 4% sulfuric acid is fine.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-23

Here is the color (pink red when) when mostly water with some weak sulfuric acid has been boiling for 5 hours.

5% sulfuric acid in 100 ml. Mostly water. 100 g * 0.95 = 95 g + 405 ml = 500 ml.

20 g H2SO4/ 500 + 20 *100% =3.77% sulfuric acid.

Here is a picture.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-23

Here is a hot water bath were the solution of sulfuric acid is kept at 70 degrees C and a yellow color is appearing. Polytannins converting into gallic acid.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-23

Here is a photo of 0.2 moles per L sulfuric acid with 36 g of stag horn sumac fruit.

Tannic acid present in different form: 7.2 g.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-23

0.4 moles * 1/2 * 98g (Atm of sulfuric acid) = 19.6 g Sulfuric acid.

CaCO3 + H2SO4 >>>> CaSO4 + CO2 + H20.

1:1 ratio.

0.2 moles H2SO4 * 136.14 = 27.22 g Calcium sulfate.

Calcium carbonate required. 0.2 moles*100 = 20 g required.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-23

The Hydrochloric acid was too strong at 22% so I redid it with weak sulfuric acid. The concentration of sulfuric acid was 0.4 moles H2SO4 per L. Afterwords calcium carbonate will be combined to convert all the sulfuric acid into calcium sulfate (insoluble). Here an initial image. See next comment.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-21

Here is a heated 22% HCl solution with 78% water of the 30 g of sumac. Note the intense yellow color may be the gallic acid being produced. However I am not sure.

A fawn color repesents gallic acid.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-21

Here is another picture of the hotplate without any water to get the HCl to boil near 108 degrees C.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-21

A total of tannic acid concentration of 6 g. 95% of the tannins are C6H3(OH)3.

C6H3(OH)3 + CO2 >>>(HCl acid cat) >>> C7H6O5 (aq).

Acid range 22-31.45% HCl.

6*0.95 = 5.7 g

5.7 g * 170.12 g (gallic acid atm)/ 126.11 g = 7.69 g gallic acid.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-21

Also boiling chips 7 of them are added to the water to prevent the flask from bumping due to boiling.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-21

Here is an outdoor boiling flask with 22% HCl with 30 g of smooth sumac. Waterbath in a ceramic bowl keeps the HCl near 40 degrees causing it to evaporate more slowly and pass into a sodium carbonate solution. A fan on High blows away any remaining HCl fumes.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-21

Here is the color of the sumac after 2 hours in 25% HCl.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-21

Here is a link to tannic acid levels in berries of sumac. 15-20%.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-21

Here the sumac 30 g is being treated with 250 ml of 25% hydrochloric acid. Be very careful with this acid especially above 20%!

SHOE0007 (author)2016-07-21

Apparently sumac in this form may be able to fight cancers, malaria.

Treatment with boiling HCl converts the tannic acid into gallic acid which can attack DNA.

ralphholcomb (author)2014-08-07

Can't wait to try this. I have 3 acres of this stuff. Flag to know thereis something I can do with it

handsonlife (author)ralphholcomb2014-08-07

There is also a spice called sumac, that I am working on an instructable for making and using. It adds a lemony flavor, and nice red color. Also makes a homemade faux lemon-pepper.

Triclaw (author)2014-08-06

I have several sumac trees I will have to try this. I have used sumac for zatta and it was good, I eaten the berries raw and they have a bitter after taste I will try this and see what I can do with it

handsonlife (author)Triclaw2014-08-06

I think most of the bitterness comes from the seed itself, rather than the berry around it, this seems to have almost no bitterness. Although it is quite sour.

boatingman (author)2014-08-06

We used this, when I was a child, as a sort of "pink lemonade". Loved it. We also made a tea from wild strawberry leaves.

handsonlife (author)boatingman2014-08-06

Yeah, sweetened it makes a great "lemonade" unsweetened it is almost like a sweet/tart vinegar

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More by handsonlife:Make a slingHow to make the spice Sumac and Sumac lemon pepperHow to make Sumac Verjuice
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