No other vegetable at this time of year has such power, or complexity. Sorrel is fruity like rhubarb. It is tart like lemon. It is herbal like basil. And it can be treated like all three. — Amanda Hesser in New York Times
In general I like to put plants in my garden that I enjoy eating (kale and herbs are my easy go-to plants). However, now that I have a backyard, I am trying to groom it to become self-sufficient with perennials that will come back year after year. Last year my aunt gifted me with a new-to-me green/herb: sorrel.
Sorrel might be new-to-you, too. I have a few gardening books and the only one that had something about it was The Complete Herb and Vegetable Gardener (I guess it was complete!) but here is a great guide online. In stores, it is hard to find, but easy to appreciate.
Sorrel is a perennial that has sour, tangy leaves. The picture above is from my garden, where it lives in partial shade. Young growth from the spring has the best flavour (the leaves a bit smaller than what you see here) whereas the sourness is accentuated in older leaves. Remove any flowers so the plant can focus on making more leaves. Despite being a perennial plant, sorrel need to replaced every 3-4 years but should be easy to grow. This is the garden sorrel variety (Rumex acetosa) but there is also a less acidic variety with more lemony notes called French sorrel (Rumex acetosella). For those interested, Richters sells a few varieties, including Garden Sorrel, True French Sorrel and their own in-house variety Profusion Sorrel which doesn’t produce any flowers and makes lots of green leaves.
Sorrel is known for adding acidity to soups, and the Vegetarian Flavour Bible highlights its affinity for potatoes, spinach, onions as well as soups, salads and sauces. Clotilde also has an extensive list of suggestions on how to eat sorrel and here are The Vegetable Butcher’s top 10 ways to use sorrel. Here, I have compiled an extensive list of vegan (or vegan friendly) recipes using sorrel. Enjoy!
Creamy sorrel soup with harissa from “Modern Jewish Cooking”
Green curry porridge from 101 Cookbooks
Lemon & fresh sorrel sherbet (vegetarian)
Sorrel-buttermilk panna cotta (vegetarian)
Have you ever tried sorrel? What are your favourite ways to use it?