Buckler Leaf Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
Sorrel is a leafy perennial which is a member of the dock family. Varieties include garden sorrel and buckler leaf (or French) sorrel.
Sorrel’s taste varieties from refreshing and tangy to sharp, sour and bitter. Its flavour can be quite acidic so it is best used sparingly or used in combination with sweet flavoured foods. The younger leaves also tend to be less acidic.
Its flavour has sometimes been compared to that of kiwifruit or wild strawberries. Sorrel has no particular aroma.
Sorrel leaves both whole and shredded are wonderful in salads, omelettes, creamy sauces and with fish. It is a common ingredient Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Polish, French and German soups, sauces and stews. Sorrel wilts quickly when exposed to steam, in a similar fashion to spinach, and therefore is best added at the end of cooking. Sorrel is good with chicken, cucumber, eggs, salmon, leeks lentils, pork, spinach, tomatoes and veal and marries with chervil, chives, dill, lovage, parsley and tarragon.
Sorrel is propagated from seed or root division and grows best in rich, moist soil. Grow in partial shade as too much sun makes the leaves bitter and hard. To avoid sorrel going to seed quickly, remove flower stalks regularly.
Sorrel is native to Europe and western Asia where is grows wild and is also now grown in North America. Sorrel was used by the ancient Egyptians and it’s name stems from the old French word ‘surele’ which means ‘sour’.
Sorrel has been used throughout history for its cooling and blood-cleansing benefits. It is claimed to help with the effects of fevers, jaundice, stomach ulcers, scurvy and constipation.
Sorrel roots are made into a bitter tonic to help relieve diarrhoea.
Facts about Sorrel
Be careful when handling sorrel leaves as their acidity can sometimes cause skin irritations. Sorrel produces blue and green dyes so use stainless steel knives and saucepans to avoid discolouration. Sorrel juice has been used as a cleaning agent to bleach rust, mould and ink stains from linen and silver.
Commonly Asked Questions
Where can I buy sorrel?
Sorrel is seldom found in supermarkets as the leaves wilt quickly and they cannot be dried. Therefore, if you want sorrel, its best to plant and grow your own.