© Michelle Mattern
Sorrel is a leafy herb that can be used as a salad leaf, or a pot herb.
The leaves have a tangy, slightly sour taste, that gets tarter as the leaves get older and bigger. The tartness comes from oxalic acid in the leaves.
The leaves look something like spinach or leaf lettuce. Depending on the variety, the leaves will be anywhere from 5 to 30 cm long (2 to 12 inches), and either pale or dark green.
It is regaining some popularity in Europe, and may be the next big thing that North American foodies discover, but as of yet (2018) it remains undiscovered in the New World.
Sorrel is from the same family as buckwheat is.
Sorrel can be grown from seeds or rhizomes. If you are growing sorrel in your garden, it is surprisingly hardy. It can even survive severe winters in a large enough pot outside.
At stores, sorrel is sold fresh in bunches. Choose firm leaves with no blotches. Avoid wilted ones.
French Sorrel (Oseille ronde)
French Sorrel leaves are smaller and have a taste remiscent of lemon. They are preferred for use in salads. It’s also called “Garden Sorrel”, “Silver Shield Sorrel” or “Buckler-leaved Sorrel.”
Common Sorrel (Oseille de jardin, Grande oseille)
Common Sorrel has bigger leaves that are much tarter than French Sorrel. It is used more in soups and stews.
© Denzil Green
Wash and drain.
You never eat a whole bunch of sorrel on its own: it is too tart. You use it instead as an “accent” herb. Depending on the variety, it can be eaten fresh or in soups. When boiled, sorrel loses its colour. To cook and preserve the colour, put into boiling water and remove within a few seconds.
You can chop sorrel for omelettes, use it to make sauces for fish, use it in a soup, or use the younger, less acidic leaves as a raw salad leaf. In French cooking, it is often cooked briefly and puréed, then ladled over eggs, fish and other dishes.
Try adding some sorrel to spinach before steaming or wilting spinach to perk up the taste of the spinach.
High in vitamin C and oxalic acid.
Store unwashed in a plastic bag in fridge for up to 2 days.
Sorrel is native to highland areas in southern continental Europe. It was introduced into England in the early 1600’s.
French Sorrel is “Rumex scutatus”; “Rumex acetosa” is Common Sorrel.