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The Sorrel's

There are many variations of Sorrel growing wild in Britain and the Northern Hemisphere and is also cultivated for sale in supermarkets. They all share a sharpness of flavour often likened to lemon. Like all wild foods it contains a great many vitamins including A, B-6, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium It is also extremely rich in vitamin C and even contains some protein!

As with all wild foods, if you are foraging Sorrel make sure that you are 100% sure to be picking the correct plant. Most lookalikes like  Dandelion or it's relatives Dock and Buckwheat are also edible in small amounts, though they don't share quite the same nice flavour, but take care to not confuse it with the similar large arrow shaped leaves of poisonous Cuckoo Pint (pictured)!

Common/Garden Sorrel

 

Common/garden Sorrel

(Rumex acetosa) - the one you can buy in the supermarket with large floppy arrow shaped leaves.

It does also grow wild in some places.

 

Sheep Sorrel

(Rumex Sheep Sorrelacetosella) - tiny lobed leaves, slightly resembling the shape of a sheep's face and ears when turned upside down (on the young leaves anyway).

The name more than likely refers to where it is found growing, and I'm sure that sheep would enjoy a nibble!

 

Wood Sorrel Wood Sorrel

(Oxalis acetosella) – unrelated to the proper sorrels of the Rumex species but with a similar taste, wood sorrel likes the light shade and rich soil of a deciduous woodland floor.

 

So what do you do with it?

Sheep Sorrel / Sourgrass You could simply nibble some as is upon discovery if out on a hike to tickle your taste buds with a sweet-sour fruity hit (a friend once likened the taste to the tang of golden delicious apples!), it's very good at helping to wet your mouth if you've no water.

If you're a fan of pesto you could make your own using Sorrel, many European dishes call for stirring some into pasta or mashed potatoes, making soup or for flavouring stews.

My favourite way to eat sorrel at home, and with the fastest preparation time, is to roughly chop larger leaves (as in the picture at the top) and simply combine with other salad leaves for a nice fresh tang with every other bite or, equally simple, stir into green vegetables or new potatoes at the end of cooking to wilt. Note that you only want to wilt the leaves like spinach, boiling for any length of time would wash away the delicate flavour.

 

Sorrel & Yogurt Dip recipe

The lemony flavour lends itself well to sea food, try stuffing into the cavity of fish before baking and making into a tangy yogurt dip to go alongside. The yogurt dip is particularly good at cooling anything with strong chilli in, and would likely also go well with BBQ'd meat on a stick... 

 

Ingredients:

Sorrel & yogurt dip - foraging recipe½ cup of natural yogurt (Greek yogurt is nice and thick but not necessary if you only have the regular stuff)

finely chopped sorrel leaves + optional chives

a squeeze of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

1. Combine ingredients by hand or in a food processor, adjust levels to your taste.

2. Serve in tiny dipping bowls - I like to use egg cups!

3. Enjoy...

 

Note: The sharp flavour is actually due to the presence of oxalic acid, a slightly toxic substance found in many species of plant but fine in small quantities like what is present in Sorrel. That being said, like with any foods really, don't overdo it and consume lots on a daily basis.

 

Have you tried sorrel before? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

 

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Sarah is a UK artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more


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