The fruit needs to be harvested about 3 weeks after the plant flowered, while the fruit pods are still crisp, tender, plump and juicy. They will turn woody if on the plant too much past that.
The fruit is bright red and slightly tart. Some varieties are less tart than others.
The fruit is sold fresh or dried. Fresh will be available in ethnic markets.
Red Sorrel is grown around the world. It is popular in the Caribbean, especially in desserts and to make wines and other beverages from. It can be used to colour and flavour some rums. Fresh leaves of the plant are eaten in salads and as a potherb.
Dried Red Sorrel fruit is used as the base for many commercial herbal teas. Dried from Sudan is preferred over that from Asia, as it is less tart and gives a reddish hue in teas rather than purple.
Per 100g (seed pods): 49 calories, 1.9g protein, .1g fat, 12.3g carbohydrate, 14mg ascorbic acid
Per 100g (leaves): 43 calories, 3.3g protein, .3g fat, 9.2g carbohydrate, 54mg ascorbic acid
Red Sorrel is native to South-East Asia. It was introduced into North America in the late 1800s.
It was popular in Florida as a substitute for cranberries in preserves and baked goods. It declined in popularity throughout the United States in the 1950s as real cranberry producers in the north stepped up production and distribution.
This is another one of those unhelpful names. The taste of the fruit reminded people of the herb, French Sorrel, and thus the name, even though there is no actual relation.