An Arnold Palmer is by far one of our favorite drinks. It's a perfect combination of equal parts lemonade and tea. The flavor play is a lovely harmony of sweet tart and astringent depth. With that understanding, we decided to take a chance by shooting through the woods to hit the green.
|Smooth and Staghorn Sumac|
Sumac is popping up everywhere around here and we're gathering enough to get us through the year. You'll often see the deep red formations of drupes popping out from the bushes along most Northeast highways in the summer. This tart fruit is used in Middle Eastern cuisine as a dried and ground spice.
|Sassafras Leaves and Twigs|
Sassafras is also prevalent in the woods of New England. During the summer, there's an abundance of new growth ready for the picking. The aromatics of the leaves and young twigs reminds us of Earl Grey tea. You may already know the dried & powdered form of the leaves as file, the thickening herb for gumbo.
|Smashing Sumac & Sugar|
When it came to processing the sumac
, we wanted to use it fresh. It's not easy to separate the berries from the clusters of stems. We cut away the central stalk with scissors, covered the clusters with sugar and started pounding away with the end of a French rolling pin. The sugar acted as an abrasive that helped separate and break down the drupes as they were smashed. After that, we submerged the berries in water and heated to a simmer to steep out the flavor and dissolve the sugar for a light syrup.
|Fresh Sassafras Leaf and Twig Tea|
Maintaining the freshness kick, we steeped torn leaves and broken up young twigs in hot water as you would tea. It had a wonderful aroma and tasted great. We had to use a lot to get enough flavor concentration. The kicker was the interesting viscosity due to its thickening powers.
|Sumac & Sassafras Arnold Palmer|
Once all the "hard work" was done, we strained out the solids, mixed the two, added ice to dilute and chill for a refreshing drink. It is one of the best Arnold Palmer spins we've done in a long time. We loved that the primary ingredients were foraged in our neighborhood.
|Strawberry Top Bronze Fennel Koji Kombucha|
We hope this helps you think about lemonade and tea as concepts in order to unlock the potential of anything you love that fits. Also, you don't have to go far into the woods to forage for ingredients. Consider the flavor packed odds and ends that have been sitting for a while in your refrigerator, freezer, pantry and cabinets. Cooking is all about using everything available to you. Shed the preconceptions to make something truly inspiring.
As always, please share your discoveries so we can keep the ideas bouncing