Sorrel

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The common sorrel is a plant typically seen growing in grassland habitats. Sorrel is considered as a salad vegetable because of its edible green leaves. The flowers of sorrel appear reddish green before turning purple when in full bloom, usually during early summer. While sorrel is known to have its roots grow deep in the ground, it is also a good container plant with an upside: if it is in a pot, you can move it to a cooler location or away from direct sunlight during warm weather.

Classification Information:
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Rumex
Species: R. acetosa
Binomial name: Rumex acetosa

Sorrel Trivia

  • When the Ancient Romans are thirsty but water is unavailable, they eat sorrel leaves to ease their thirst.
  • Ancient Chinese extract sorrel juice and use it to remove two things: freckles on the skin and stains on a linen cloth.
  • A species of sorrel known as wild rhubarb is important for those in the business of tanning leather because the root of wild rhubarb contains an important ingredient for tanning called tannins. Not to be outdone, the stem and leaves of the wild rhubarb are used to produce a yellow-brown dye.
  • In French cuisine, fish is cooked with sorrel because the   acidity of sorrel helps dissolve thin fish bones.

Sorrel Buying Guide

You can buy freshly-cut sorrel leaves, dried sorrel leaves, and powdered sorrel in the grocery, supermarket, farmers market, or at a farm stand. If you are looking to buy potted sorrel, the best place to go is a plant nursery. 

When buying sorrel, knowing the shape of each of the two common varieties of sorrel will help you identify what is being sold in the store or market. The leaves of a common sorrel (also known as garden sorrel) are shaped like an arrow, while the leaves of the French sorrel (Rumex scutatus) have a rounded shape that could look like a shield or a heart.

Spot a fresh bunch of sorrel in the market by inspecting the color of the leaves. It should have a vibrant color and looks clean. There should be no broken stem, bruised leaves, or any discoloration. This will indicate whether it is fresh or if it has been in the display for too long. If the leaves for sale have wilted stalks and bruised or broken leaves, do not buy it.

Sorrel Production & Farming in Texas

A press release from Prairie View A&M University in 2018 revealed that, after considerable research and study of the plant, growing sorrel in Texas is a realistic, viable, and potentially rewarding agricultural enterprise, according to Dr. Peter Ampim and Dr. Kesha Henry, both from Prairie View A&M University. The months of May and June are the ideal months to start planting sorrel in Texas. Leaves will be ready for harvest between November and December.

When growing sorrel, keep in mind that the plant prefers the cool periods of spring and fall. If you grow it somewhere hot, the plant easily bolts. The ideal soil condition for growing sorrel is moist, sandy soil that does not hold water and drains well.

Pesticides:

Sorrel is not often bothered by pest problems, but there is still the presence of threats that could seriously damage the health and appearance of the plant evidenced by chewed-off leaves and other signs that indicate the presence of pests. For sorrel, the common problems are aphids, flea beetles, slugs and snails, and leafminers. Below are the remedies for a specific pest problem.

  • Carbaryl – use this against flea beetles
  • Cyfluthrin – use this against flea beetles
  • Horticultural oil – use this against aphids
  • Insecticidal soaps – use this against aphids
  • Lambda cyhalothrin – use this against flea beetles
  • Malathion – use this against aphids and flea beetles
  • Neem oil – use this against aphids
  • Pyrethrins – use this against flea beetles
  • Permethrin – use this against flea beetles
  • Rotenone – use this against aphids
  • Slug bait or copper tape – use this against slugs and snails
  • Spinosad – use this against leafminers and flea beetles

Geography:

Sorrel is commonly found growing in the northern Mediterranean coasts, Scandinavia, and parts of Central Asia. Sorrel was introduced in New Zealand, Australia, and North America.

Packaging:

You can buy freshly-cut sorrel leaves sold in a plastic container if you are buying in a grocery with a fresh produce section, or you can also find bundles of sorrel leaves inside an open carton box, tray, or basket on display or stored inside a cooler if you are buying at a farm stand or in a farmers market.

Eating Sorrel

When it comes to eating sorrel, everything is on the table – literally and figuratively. You can eat the leaves of the sorrel as well as its root and seed. You can eat sorrel as it is and uncooked. Sorrel is enjoyable to eat because of its juicy stalks. Some like to eat it raw with cream sauce.

The signature taste of the common sorrel is an acidic flavor you can easily associate with how some fruits like kiwi, strawberry, or lemon taste like. This is the result of the presence of oxalic acid in sorrel. If you want a less acidic alternative, you can try using French sorrel instead of the common sorrel instead.

However, when eating sorrel, it is important to remember to eat in moderation because the oxalic acid present in sorrel can aggravate various health problems like kidney problems, rheumatism, gout, and arthritis. 

Storage:

You can put freshly-cut sorrel leaves in the refrigerator. Put sorrel leaves inside a plastic bag or wrap it in a paper cloth or towel before putting it inside the refrigerator to extend the freshness of the sorrel leaves. If you have a freezer bag, put sorrel leaves inside and store it in the freezer for longer freshness. Just make sure that you have the sorrel leaves washed thoroughly and dried well.

For herb sorrel, you can dry it if you want to store it for future use. Flash-dry it by putting it inside a microwave and heating for 20 seconds (shorter or longer depending on the condition of the leaves) and once it is brittle, you can crush it and put it inside an herb bottle or any container with a lid. Place the container somewhere cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight.

Another drying technique is to spread the sorrel leaves out on a drying screen and then place this in a warm, dry room to allow it to completely dry. Make sure to turn the leaves every two days to make sure these dry out evenly. You’ll know these are completely dry when they turn brittle.

Cooking:

If you are cooking sorrel, here are some useful tips. If you are unsure how to cook sorrel stalks, it is no different than cooking rhubarb. If you think sorrel’s acidity is a problem, a solution is by cooking it using butter or cream. You can also use cream to thicken sorrel soup. Eggs are a good alternative too.

The leaves of sorrel are tossed along with other fresh vegetables to make a salad. Puréed sorrel is also used for salads as well as soups like Armenia’s aveluk soup wherein sorrel leaves are stewed with onions, potatoes, walnuts, garlic, and bulgur wheat or lentils, and sometimes sour plums.

You can cook chopped sorrel by adding it to soups and stews (sorrel and spinach stew in Nigeria), improving the flavor of the dish. In many East-European countries, particularly in Poland, Sorrel soup (green soup/borscht) is a national soup dish, traditionally served with quartered boiled egg and sour cream. In India, sorrel mixed with yellow lentils and peanuts makes for excellent curry, while in Afghanistan, they coat sorrel in wet batter and deep-fried it for a crunchy, healthy snack.

In Greece, sorrel is an important ingredient (along with spinach, leeks, and chard) when making spanakopita or spinach pie. Albania too has a pie made of sorrel – they call this baked pastry byrek pie where sorrel is used as a filling.

Nutrition:

Eating sorrel is a good way to load up on phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins (including B-complex vitamins such as vitamin-B6, riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin), and minerals (manganese, calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, and zinc). Eating 100 grams of sorrel and we’ve already hit 80% of our daily recommended levels for vitamin C, and the same amount is equivalent to 133% RDA of Vitamin A which is good for the eyes, lungs, and oral cavity.

Also, the presence of vital antioxidant phenolic antioxidants like kaempferol, myricetin, quercetin, etc. keeps our body stronger and more resilient to sickness. Sorrel leaves have very low calories but this leaf is packed with soluble dietary fiber.

  • Calcium: 44mg 
  • Iron: 2.40mg
  • Potassium: 390mg
  • Sodium: 4mg

Nutritional Benefits:

If you have a fever, stomach ache, or intestinal parasites, drink a cup of tea made from sorrel leaves to alleviate your condition. If you are suffering from diarrhea, use the roots when making a warm drink. 

You don’t need to eat food with sorrel or drink sorrel flavored or infused drinks for this plant to be of service to your well-being. Folk medicine uses poultices made from sorrel leaves to treat bruises and inflammation.

When Are Sorrel in Season in Texas?

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  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • November
  • December

One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas.

Buy Local Farmfresh Sorrel in Texas Directly from the Producer

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Born Free Farm

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Doodle Farms Legacy Hall

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Elliott Grows

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Grandma’s Garden at Bebe

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Pure Roots Farm

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Rain Song Farm

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Up in the Roost