"Sumac berries grow on small trees with feather-compound leaves. (The species with red berries are not toxic; poison sumac has white berries.) The red fruits ripen in late summer, when they may be placed in a jar of hot or cold water and allowed to sit for several hours to make a sort of lemonade. By autumn, the remaining berries make an interesting nibble, with their burst of sour flavor, but they have lost much of their Vitamin C to the rain, which leaches it from the fruit. Later in the season, most of the clusters are inhabited by spiders. Birds, however, will eat the fruit throughout the winter."
I think sumac berries are commonly used in Indian & Middle Eastern cooking. I'm not sure how, but up at the farm we've got an intern with some gourmet flair (Avi). He uses them quite a bit. Call the intern line and ask him how he uses them.
Principal - Terra Phoenix Design
Off the top of my head,Id say that most use of sumac is going to be using the fruit clusters as a lemonade substitute.Some sp. are used for a spice in middle eastern cooking.What Im really interested in is which species?To that end,Ive planted 5 of the most popular listed(as edible)species.Hopefully Ill be getting back to this post in 5 yrs with the results.Sumac is closely related to poison ivy and such so there should be some caution in their use.Some asian sp. are used to create terpintine so their is potentialy alot of volitile oils and the like.Its good to hear that some one is using the temperate sp. to cook with.
There is nothing permanent in a culture dependent on such temporaries as civilization.