Typically, this is how I start conversations with my customers at my farmers market stand.
‘Have you ever tasted Sorrel?’
‘No, what is that?’
‘Taste it and let me know’
I will hand them a piece.
‘WHAT IS THAT?’
‘Is it lemony?’
‘You can eat fresh in the salad. Or Eastern European and french people make soup with potatoes to get that tangy flavor’
‘How much is the bag?’
Well, This is how I became ‘the farmer who sells that tangy herb’.
Eastern Europeans need no introduction to Sorrel. Or Lovage. (That’s for another day!)
Some heard about it, not tasted it.
New Kid in the block
Sorrel is a perennial herb, from Europe.
But do not confuse with the sorrel, Hibiscus sabdariffa, from Caribbean that is used to make sorrel drink.
There is another sorrel, with red veined leaves, called Bloody dock. You will find about it here too.
Sorrel is finding its way to our dinner tables. But they are hard to find.
If you are lucky, you will find them at Farmers markets and specialty food shops.
Chop them and throw them in the salad.
You don’t need lemon anymore.
‘Can you use it in tea?’
Once in a while comes the question.
I never tried it. Their sourness comes from oxalic acid, not from citric acid.
So it may not work for teas.
As it has oxalic acid, people with arthritis or kidney stones should eat them in small quantities.
Beside oxalic acid, it is full of Vitamins A and D and potassium.
Sorrel comes in a few varieties.
There is garden sorrel (Rumex Acetosa) with arrow-like leaves. It is more flavorful. It is hardy to zone 3. It doesn’t like hot summers. It bolts easily in hot weather, going to seed fast. You can start them from seeds.
If you have them in the garden, they may self-seed and spread. So pick the stems with seeds and discard them. This will let the plant grow more leaves.
Then, another called French Sorrel (Rumex scutatus) with round thick leaves. It has milder flavor. It is hardy to zone 6. French sorrel doesn’t bolt. So only way to get them going is from divisions.
Sheep’s sorrel (Rumex acetosella) is a wild one, mostly foraged. It is with small leaves that are as tangy as other sorrels.
How to Grow Sorrel
You can start the seeds early under lights or outdoors after the soil is warmed in the spring.
If you find plants, plant them in spring, one feet apart.
As they are perennials, they will serve you for years. They grow vigorously. So every few years, divide them and plant in fall.
Keep picking the leaves to have more new growth.
You have to compete with snails and slugs to get the leaves, though.
They will be nice to you by leaving leaves with holes in the mornings.
You can get seeds from us.