Along the Grapevine

Sumac Meringue Pie



Last Sunday it was a balmy -3 C, and for me the first opportunity of the year to get out and do some foraging. It just goes to show that even in this challenging climate, there is always something out there for the foraging enthusiast. Apart from having to negotiate the deep snow banks, I found this to be an ideal time to pick sumac. The flowers just snapped off, and the berries likewise were much easier to remove from the stems than they had been in the summer. In just a few minutes, I had a full bag of flowers, and the bushes still looked untouched.


I started by making a sumac syrup, this time cooking it for longer than in my previous experiments. I  filled a crock pot about 3/4 full, poured water until the mixture reached the brim, and then cooked it on low for 12 hours. Then I strained the deep red juice through a coffee filter to be used in some new recipes. Here it is after 12 hours of stewing.


The first is for a sumac meringue pie, which I present to The Novice Gardener’s Fiesta Friday for this week. Since my theory that sumac is the new lemon, it can replace the imported fruit just about anywhere, and what better place to begin than with a festive pie.


To make the syrup: Measure off 4 cups of juice, add 1 cup of sugar and simmer until you have about 2 1/2 cups of syrup.

Pastry:  I used a recipe from La Petite Paniere, the one she uses for Tarte Tatin (which by the way I highly recommend) because I did not want a flaky, lard pastry but rather a buttery French style one. Or use your own favourite recipe for a meringue pie.


2 1/2 cups sumac syrup

1/4 cup tapioca or corn starch

5 egg yolks

Mix the starch together with the syrup until it thickens. Spoon some of the hot liquid into the beaten yolks and then add the egg yolk mixture into the syrup pot. Continue to cook and stir for a couple of minutes.


5 egg whites

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Beat the egg whites. When stiff, add the sugar and cream of tartar and continue to beat until peaks form.

The Pie

Pour the custard into a baked pie shell. Top with meringue and bake in a 350 oven until the meringue is golden on top. Allow to cool before cutting.


This pie is not only local and organic, at least the sumac part, but also requires a lot less sugar than a lemon version. I hope this sumac meringue pie will help persuade the skeptics that even invasive weeds are sometimes worth considering as a valuable source of great food.


Author: Hilda

I am a backyard forager who likes to share recipes using the wild edibles of our area.

31 thoughts on “Sumac Meringue Pie

  1. This pie looks absolutely heavenly! Thanks for the education…would never have known sumac was so versatile 🙂


  2. Thanks. I have just started myself, and have been surprised at how easy and versatile it is.


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  4. I wish I still lived in the country and we could have compared notes on using sumac in the kitchen. Great info and recipe 🙂


  5. I’ve never had sumac and now I feel like I’m really missing out!


    • Depends where you live. But you can buy the dried variety in Middle Eastern Stores and it can have many uses. I haven’t tried to reconstitute it back into a syrup, but perhaps it could be done. Thanks for stopping by.


      • I bet that you could make a simple syrup with the dried stuff, in a similar way to using fennel seeds or cardamom to flavour a simple syrup for cocktails. I guess that it would probably take quite a bit to get the deep colour that you have from the fresh stuff, though. I reckon a couple of tbsp in a caramel would also make interesting sugarwork.
        I love coming to your blog, I always get the germs of ideas for many other things.


      • You certainly do have some good ideas. I had thought of making syrup from the dried stuff, but then decided to use the fresh since I had some. I have also been trying to come up with an interesting drink. I would welcome any ideas you have. I am so pleased my recipes give you ideas, because that is the whole point of my blog – not so much for the recipes themselves but just illustrations of some of the things one can do. It seems there are so many untapped resources all around us.

        On Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 6:10 PM, Along the Grapevine wrote:



  6. You never cease to amaze me, Hilda! So they’re still good even now? I have a wild patch of sumac. I made sumac-ade with fresh berries and have dried some for grinding, but there is still a lot out there. I thought maybe they’ve lost their flavor by now. The pie looks awesome!


    • Thanks for the comment. They certainly are good, but make sure you pick clean ones as they won’t withstand washing very well as a lot of the flavour is on the outside of the berry (or at least so I have read). Also, for the same reason it is not so good to pick them after a lot of rain, which is what we are getting now.


  7. I had no idea you could cook with this. It grows all over here in IA.


    • For years people told me it wasn’t edible, and all that time I was buying the imported powder from far away. So I decided to investigate, and sure enough, it is very useful. Just be careful you are not allergic to it, although I think for most people it is the leaves, but I still suggest caution. However, have had not problems in our household, and I think what is keeping people from trying is just the fact that it is a weed and seen as a nuisance.


  8. Well, I have never tasted sumac, except for the spice and now you have me so curious. I would love to try this – it looks delicious!


  9. Your recipe is delicious and I love the idea of “sumac” Hilda. I’m very flattered that you used my recipe for the dough, thank you for sharing. Linda 🙂


  10. please save that piece for me, looks absolutely yummy


  11. Hmmm…Sumac is new to me and I’m thinking I need to go find some. This pie looks absolutely delightful!


  12. Thanks. Just be sure to get the red staghorn variety, not the white which is poisonous.


  13. This pie looks delicious! I’ve never seen sumac before – perhaps someday I’ll come across it. Lovely pie 🙂


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  16. I love meringue pie and sumac, but I usually use it in savoury dishes. That’s interesting! 🙂


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  19. I am going to make this. I am so curious. I have steeped it for “lemonade” and the colour is so beautiful. Did it turn out delicious?


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