Subject: sorrel
From: Frank Whitman <>
Date: Sat, 9 Mar 1996 13:13:24 -0600

Since sorrel is the herb of the week, I would like to offer my experience with it. I planted my first plant three years ago as it was recommended to use with or instead of lettuce in a salad. I now have one-half dozen plants, as I like it better than ordinary lettuce in salads. I have it growing in my culinary bed outside my back door. Each evening from April to October, I step out, cut the sorrel, some chives, some garlic chives, some lemon basil, some tarragon, and a scatter of mint. Thown in some bell peppers from the garden, some tomatoes, and a vinegret made from last years tarragon or basil vinegar mixed with olive oil, and heaven has arrived. I would welcome some information on other uses of sorrel.

From: Colette Dunkley <>

Yes sorrel! Its been an ever present throughout this lousy winter and now its champing at the bit to get going as soon as the weather lets up.

Sorrel sauce, sorrel soup, sorrel in salads, now that's an encouraging thought. Clean tasting, cathartic.

Rumex acetosa your hour has come

From: Dunkley <>

> Is sorrel a perennial? If so, what is the best source? I'll be growing mesclun for salads - sounds like sorrel would be a good addition.


Sorrel, Rumex acetosa, is a perennial and is easily raised from seed from a Spring sowing. You should remove the flowers. I bought mine as a plant a great many years ago and it has made a fine clump.

From: Marilyn Edmison-Driedger <>

There are many sorrels. I grow the true French Sorrel it has a very tart lemon flavor (rumex sctatus), a hardy perennial in my zone 6a garden. Keep the seed heads cut back to promote new growth. As soon as the snow is gone the sorrel starts to grow. Profusion TM is a introduction by Richters and does not bolt. Sheep sorrel grows as a weed here and is not the one you want for cooking!!!

From: Julie <>

I garden professionally at an eighteenth century plantation in Virginia. One of my duties is to research and grow historical herbs. Presently I grow 120 different species, many obscure. I am following the thread on sorrel with much interest. French sorrel, Rumex scutatus, is definitely historical to Europe. It is mentioned in Gerard's Herbal, and has been traced back to the early 1500's. Sheep sorrel, Rumex acetosella, is a native perennial weed, and according to Peterson's Guide to Edible Wild Plants, is edible. Ditto for Curly Dock, Rumex crispus, and Garden Sorrel, Rumex acetosa. All are commonly found growing wild in North America. The difference between Sheep Sorrel and Garden Sorrel is found in the leaves and flowers. R. acetosella (Sheep) has distinctive arrowhead shaped leaves, and sparser flowers and is considerably shorter than R. acetosa. R. acetosa (Garden) upper leaves actually embrace the stem and it has much larger and showier flower clusters.

Having said that, my musings center on what would be the historically correct kind to grow in our herb garden. Would an eighteenth century person have went to the trouble and expense of having French Sorrel imported from the mother country when our native sorrels were abundant, free, and easily accessible? All suggestions and comments are appreciated.

From: (James Eason)

> Would an eighteenth century person have went to the trouble and expense of having French Sorrel imported from the mother country when our native sorrels were abundant, free, and easily accessible?

Sure they would. Take a handful of sorrel seed. That represents enough sorrel plants to cover the entire planet 3 plants deep. And ALL of those seeds will come up. So it's an easy plant to transport. Then compare the flavor of Rumex scutatus with its rivals. No comparison at all. So anyone who liked sorrel would probably be willing to toss a few hundred thousand seeds into a pillbox and bring it over here.


>Word to the wise, SOME sorrels contain oxalic acid which can interfere with calcium and magnesium absorption.

Actually...I think there's some confusion about sorrels here. The common garden sorrels are members of the genus Rumex and do not contain oxalic acid. The family of plants known commonly as wood sorrels, genus Oxalis (i.e. O. violacea, O. montana, O. stricta, O. grandis, O. europaea et al), do contain levels of oxalic acids, but these are all wild forms and are rarely cultivated in herb gardens.

All wood sorrels are characterized by clover-like leaves, delicate five-petaled flowers and have a sour taste, while the garden-variety sorrel has arrowhead-shaped leaves.

It's true that Oxalis, if eaten over an extended period of time, can inhibit calcium and magnesium absorption, but they can be easily distinguished from the edible, garden sorrel.

From: (Michael Demchik)

Both Rumex (true sorrel) and Oxalis (wood-sorrel) contain oxalates according to "Edible wild plants" Lee Allen Peterson, "Eastern and central Medicinal plants" Steven Foster and James Duke, "Herbal Delights" Mrs. C.F. Leyel and"Magic and Medicine of Plants" Readers Digest. While I know that all of these are NOT primary literature, they are reasonably sound. I do not know which species you were refering to, however, I believe that most Polygonaceae contain oxalates. FYI Rumex is indeed, under the current system a Polygonaceae. (... rhubarb, a close relative to the Rumexes, also contains oxalic acid. -Henriette)

From: Jenny Evans <>

>wood sorrels, genus Oxalis (i.e. O. violacea, O. montana, O. stricta, O. grandis, O. europaea et al), do contain levels of oxalic acids, but these are all wild forms and are rarely cultivated in herb gardens.

One of these oxalis varieties is sold in N. America as a potted indoor plant (specially about now for St. Patrick's day) under the name of "Shamrock". (though the real shamrock I think is a type of clover).


I had this all finished and my screen froze so I'm retyping, I hope I'm not to late with this thread

There are five different types of Sorrels,
Common Garden (rumex acetosa)
French [Rumex scutatus]
Mountain [Oxyria reniformis]
Wood [Oxalis acetosella]
Sheep [Rumex acetosella],

Gerard says there are eight, garden, bunched or knobbed, sheep, romane, curled, barren and great broad leaved.

ALL of the sorrels contain the constituents of oxalate of potash which contains tartaric and tannnic accids.
As with everything it should be used in moderation, too much is not a good thing. it could cause oxalate poisoning.

Wood sorrel (Shamrock) has been used from the beginning of time as a salad herb, both in medicine and for its taste, all the sorrels are used in cooking taking the place of vinegar.

Wood Sorrel recipies include wood sorrel conserve, disolving sugar or honey and adding beaten wood sorrel and orange rind. or making a dry lemonade, by beating the wood sorrel and adding dry sugar and sealing to store, when ready to use, spoon powdered mixture into water for a lemonaide with out the lemons.

Garden and french sorrels are used by wraping fish in the leaves and baking. Sorrel leaves and roots are used in baking bread, it can be used to curdle milk like rennet, dried roots make a beautiful red color and makes barley soup look liked it was cooked in wine, a few leaves are cooked in with the spinich, the salts of sorrel is often sold under the name of essential salt of lemon because the oxalate of potash is used for bleaching linen and and straw and removes ink stains.


Sorrel being the herb of the week I didn't know of any and had a hard time finding any forlklore about it. In reference to 'Garden Sorrel' It was called 'Soursuds' or 'Greensauce'. The later due to mashing it up with vinegar and sugar and using it as a sauce on cold meat. It does have a lot of vitamin C and oxalic acid which caused its sharp flavor. And due to the vitamin C it was used as a scurvey preventative. In one book I have Sorrel is marked as a poison due tothe oxalic acid and all forms of oxalic acid are toxic to some extent. It was recommended to use in the old days for a kidney tonic and duretic. BUT this reference states if you suffer any form of arthritis or kidney problems you should AVOID it completely. Large amounts of the oxalic acid are extremely poisonous, but if you reducing it by parboiling it. Only one book stated this. All others I have ever read did not mention any of this. I have put it in salads and served very good sorrel soup. After reading this, I am not so sure about serving it again. Of course, too much of anything can be bad for you in some way...look at rosemary. I have Leslie Bremes' book in front of me and she doesn't say anything negative about either the 'R.scutatus' or 'R.acetosa'.

I have noticed in some herbal recipes it is recommended that you boil it twice to et the acidicness out of it.

It does need to be separated in the fall and dried has little to no flavor. I've dried it and tried it--and like dried chives, you could get just as much flavor out of green tissue paper.

Like all herbs...they are and can be real medicine; therefore dangerous, so we must never foret that. I can't imagine "being" without using them, but the more I know about them the better I feel. I just don't go picking anything out of the pasture or even the herb garden and make a tea out of it.

From: (James Eason)

>Sorrel being the herb of the week
(bit of snipping)
> dried has little to no flavor. I've dried it and tried it--and like dried chives, you could get just as much flavor out of green tissue paper.

You can buy it in the local markets pureed and canned with a little water and salt. It's called (I think) "Schav" or "Schev", and comes from Poland. It's great this way in the winter, tastes pretty fresh, and you can make a really good sauce with this and a bit of chicken stock and cream or sour cream, for pork chops.


It seems that sorrel is a good ingredient for soup, since there has been another soup recipe given here. It is also, according to the book I was reading, considered a good spring tonic to use sorrel. So here is to Spring.......not quite here yet in Maine. Beth

Sorrel Spinach Soup

Recipe By : Sage Cottage Cookbook/Dorry Baird Norris

1 medium carrot -- chopped
1 medium potato -- chopped
1 medium onion -- chopped
2 cloves garlic -- crushed
3 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 package fresh spinach, large stems removed
6 ounces fresh sorrell, large stems removed
1 tablespoon corn oil
1 tablespoon flour
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon marjoram
¼ teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons thinly sliced sorrel for garnish
¾ cup low fat yogurt

Cover carrot, onion, potato, and garlic with 2 cups stock; cook until tender. Add spinach and sorrel; allow to steam for 3 minutes. Puree cooled vegetables and liquid in blender or food mill.

Make a roux by adding oil to non stick saucepan, whisk in flour and cook over medium heat until lightly browned.

Whisk in 1-½ cups of reserved chicken stock; cook over low heat until thickened. Add spinach/sorrel mixture; stir in herbs; simmer gently over low heat for 5 minutes. If soup is too thick, add more stock.

Pour soup into heated bowls. Add a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle on the reserved sorrel. Serve with thin Danish rye flat bread, topped with cottage cheese mixed with caraway and fennel seeds.

From: Russell Hansen <>

I have several sorrel recipes from the book 'Cooking with herbs and spices' by Jill Graham. Here's one:-

Sorrel and Cucumber Soup

10 Large sorrel leaves
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
5 teaspoons flour
4 cups chicken stock
pinch of nutmeg
½ cup cream
white pepper

Shred all except 1 sorrel leaf. Melt butter in a large suacepan over mod. low heat & gently cook shredded sorrel, onion, cucumbers and celery until soft. Do not brown.

Sprinkle over flour and stir gentle for 1 minute. Gradually add stock and simmer for 20 minutes.

Slice other sorrel leaf into very fine threads.

Sieve or blend soup, add nutmeg & cream. Season to taste. Reheat gentle wihtout boiling. Grarnish with shredded sorrel leaf.

Serve hot or chilled. Serves 6.

From: (Pek Linda)

Hi all!

This is the favourite recipe of a friend of mine who has sorrel growing in her garden. It's so good that I always try to get invited to her house for dinner when she makes it.

Chicken with Sorrel Sauce

Two ca. 3 pound chickens
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4-5 cups loosely packed sorrel leaves
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 cup dry white wine
½ & ⅓ cups heavy cream
1 egg yolk

Cut chicken into pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat butter and olive oil in pan and add chicken pieces. Brown chicken all over. Cover pan and cook chicken over medium heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cut sorrel into thin strips. Add shallots to the pan, cover and cook over high heat for 2 minutes. Add sorrel and wine to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add ½ cup of cream to the pan. Turn all the chicken pieces so that they are fully coated with the cream and pan juices. Cover again and cook over high heat for another 10 minutes. Uncover and remove from heat for 10 minutes. Add ⅓ cup cream and egg yolk, mixing thoroughly to incorporate them into the pan juices. Do not cover pan, cook on low heat just until little bubbles appear at the edge of the pan. Be careful not to let it boil or the sauce will curdle. Serves 6. Enjoy!