Not for nothing is it called “sour as a sorrel”!
Perhaps each of us had the opportunity to meet and taste it in the wild.
But do you know what its species are?
How can it be used in the kitchen?
Or what are its health benefits?
We will tell you all this and much more in our article!
What exactly is sorrel?
Sorrel is a perennial herb that belongs to the rhododendron family, just like buckwheat or rhubarb. It can be used in salads, fries, marinades, soups and various meat mixtures. It has a distinct sour, lemony taste.
Types of sorrel
There are over 200 species of sorrel, but we will imagine only some of them:
- Sour sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is probably the most commonly found here. It’s a deep-rooted perennial that will last for years if it finds a spot it likes. It has a sharp taste and rather large, arrow-shaped leaves. It grows to a height of about one meter and has small pinkish flowers.
- Scaly sorrel (Rumex scutatus) has a milder flavor than sour sorrel, with smaller and rounder leaves that are bright green. You can use this variety in soups, stews, salads or make a delicious pesto.
- Blood sorrel (Rumex sanguineus) has, as you may have guessed, deep red veins in its leaves. It has a very mild, almost non-juicy flavor with very little acidity usually associated with this plant. It’s great in a salad.
- Lesser sorrel (Rumex acetosella) is about as sour as common sorrel, but with smaller leaves. It reaches a height of about 45 cm and blooms from March to November.
- The blunt sorrel (Rumex obtusifolius) is a native species of the sorrel family and is one of the most widespread weeds in the world. It grows to a height of around 50 to 150 cm.
- grows up to a height of around 50-150 centimeters.
- Curly sorrel (Rumex crispus) has long and narrow leaves with wavy or curly edges – hence its name.
Health benefits of eating sorrel
Sorrel is an excellent source of vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that helps keep the immune system functioning properly. It also contains a dose of vitamin C, an important antioxidant that helps our body ward off infection. Vitamin C is also essential for collagen biosynthesis.
Supports reproductive health
Research shows that a diet rich in vitamin A can also improve reproductive health.
Maintains healthy eyesight and skin
Vitamin A is important for eye health (it helps prevent age-related vision loss) and also supports healthy skin, hair and nails.
Supports bowel regularity and weight loss
A 1-cup serving of fresh sorrel provides about 4 grams of fiber, which helps maintain regular bowel movements. Fiber also helps regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels. In addition, fiber-rich foods are more satiating, leading to weight loss and/or weight management support.
Protects against chronic diseases
A high-fiber diet may help protect against certain health problems, including cancer, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
It can reduce the growth of cancer cells
Although human research is lacking, some test-tube and animal studies have found that sorrel can block the growth and spread of certain types of cancer cells. For example, a test-tube study showed that several types of sorrel killed breast, cervical, and skin cancer cells. Still, more studies are needed to determine how sorrel may affect cancer growth in humans when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
Side effects of consuming sorrel
When consumed in moderation (in amounts typically found in foods), sorrel is considered safe. However, it contains a high amount of oxalic acid, which means that consuming it in large quantities can be harmful due to the possibility of oxalate poisoning. Side effects may include kidney, liver and gastrointestinal damage. Sorrel in the form of dried herbs can be dangerous for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Nutritional values of sorrel
In the following table, see a comparison of the nutritional values of 100 g of fresh sorrel vs. fresh selected types of herbs.
|Nutritional values|| Sorrel|
|Energy||22 kcal||36 kcal||23 kcal||30 calories|
|Fats||0.7 g||0.8 g||0.6 g||0.7 g|
|Carbohydrates||3.2 g||6.3 g||2.7 g||4.4 g|
|Fiber||2.9 g||3.3 g||1.6 g||2.5 g|
|Proteins||2 g||3 g||3.2 g||3.3 g|
Vitamins and minerals in sorrel
Also look at the amount of minerals and vitamins that fresh sorrel contains compared to selected types of herbs.
|Vitamins and minerals|| Sorrel|
|Vitamin A||100.00 mcg||421.00 mcg||264.00 mcg||218.00 mcg|
|Vitamin B2||0.100 mg||0.098 mg||0.076 mg||0.115 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.500 mg||1,313 mg||0.902 mg||0.647 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.122 mg||0.090 mg||0.155 mg||0.138 mg|
|Folates||13.00 mcg||152.00 mcg||68.00 mcg||105.00 mcg|
|Vitamin C||48.00 mg||133.0 mg||18.0 mg||58.1 mg|
|Calcium||44.00 mg||138.00 mg||177.00 mg||92.00 mg|
|Copper||0.131 mg||0.15 mg||0.39 mg||0.16 mg|
|Iron||2.40 mg||6.20 mg||3.17 mg||1.60 mg|
|Magnesium||103.00 mg||50.00 mg||64.00 mg||42.00 mg|
|Potassium||390.00 mg||554.00 mg||295.00 mg||296.00 mg|
|Sodium||4.00 mg||56.00 mg||4.00 mg||3.00 mg|
|Zinc||0.20 mg||1.07 mg||0.81 mg||0.56 mg|
Where can you buy sorrel?
Look for sorrel in the spring and summer at farmers markets and some specialty stores. This unique herb is extremely difficult to find. If you have trouble finding it, ask at your local market. The main season is from April to May. When choosing sorrel at the market, look for one that has a bright green shade without brown spots and signs of wilting.
How to store sorrel?
If you plan to use the sorrel within a day or two, simply store it loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. For longer storage, rinse, dry and roll in paper towels before placing in a bag. Paper towels absorb any excess liquid and keep the leaves dry but in a sufficiently moist environment.
You can also cook the leaves in a knob of butter until they wilt and fall apart. The end result will be like a sorrel puree. Freeze this puree and add it to soups or stews later.
You can also dry sorrel and use it as an herb, but it will lose some of its flavor.
What can be substituted for sorrel?
If you come across a recipe with sorrel and don’t have it on hand, you can simply add a little lemon juice or lemon zest instead. Arugula, rhubarb and even spinach can stand in for sorrel along with lemon juice.
How can we use sorrel in the kitchen?
You can use sorrel as an herb, just like parsley, basil or mint. Chop it and add it to marinades or dressings , or stir it into soups or various meat and vegetable mixtures for a bit of fresh taste.
You can also tear the tender leaves into salads or add them to fried chips .
Thanks to its sour and clear taste , it makes potatoes, eggs and various cereals very special. It is also excellent with smoked or fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel.
Sorrel goes luxuriously with cream, sour cream or yogurt , because their creaminess tames its strong taste.
It is also a great addition to other cooked vegetables . Add a handful or two when you’re cooking spinach, Swiss chard or kale for a beautifully tart flavor.
Younger leaves can be much more fragile and hold poorly when cooking, so use them as a garnish for spring meals or in uncooked dishes.
Use in recipes
Prepare a simple pesto that goes well with fish thanks to its lemon flavor.
- 200 g of sorrel (remove the thick stems)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/3 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Beat the garlic with a pinch of salt in a food processor.
- Add the almonds, whisk quickly and then add the sorrel.
- Drizzle with olive oil while blending to achieve desired consistency.
- Remember that the pesto will thicken a bit after you add the cheese.
- Stir in the grated parmesan by hand.
Try our other herb pesto recipes and bring a whole new experience to your plates!
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1 generous handful of blood sorrel
- a pinch of salt to taste
- juice of one lemon
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add the yogurt to the blender and beat well.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
Get inspired by our homemade yogurt recipes 6 different ways. In the oven, yogurt maker and in the pot!
What else can you prepare from sorrel?
- Sorrel soup
A classic French recipe consisting of sorrel, spring onions, stock, cream and egg yolks.
- Nut sauce
A rich, green sauce made from whipping cream, butter, sorrel and stock.
- Warm potato salad with sorrel dressing
Warm potato salad topped with a dressing of chopped sorrel, olive oil, sweet onion and white wine vinegar.
- Salmon with sorrel sauce
Steamed or grilled salmon served with sorrel sauce.
- Mixed leaf salad with sorrel and goat cheese
Spring leafy greens mixed with sorrel and topped with creamy, high-fat goat cheese.
- Grilled fish and rice with sorrel and lemon
Grilled fillet or whole fish served on a mixture of sorrel rice with lemon juice.
Where does sorrel grow?
In our country, sorrel grows almost everywhere, and we can find about 23 types of sorrel here. Ideally, go out to look for it in nature during the spring months, when its leaves have the best taste. Sorrel is widespread almost throughout Europe. It thrives best in sunny places with plenty of moisture.
Therefore, it can be found especially near rivers and streams, on wet pastures or grassy areas. As it is undemanding, it can also be found in lowlands or foothills or mountainous regions.
History of sorrel
In France, sorrel has been used medicinally for centuries, as well as in soups and stews. Before the French, evidence of sorrel consumption can be found in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, where the herb was used to acidify rich and heavy dishes, much like we use it today.
In fact, the word “sorrel” comes from the Germanic word “sur” and the Old French word “surele”, both of which mean “sour”. This is exactly the flavor that sorrel gives to dishes and why it is used not only in the countries mentioned above, but all over the world, including Romania, Nigeria, Hungary, Russia, India and Vietnam.