How to Use Sorrel
Answered by: Yvonne Tremblay
Question from: Kathy King
Posted on: May 14, 2005

Is sorrel a green to steam, or a herb? Is it used raw or in cooking? We live in north central Florida area in Gainesville and I got sorrel there twice from a grower, thinking it had special properties. I do not like vinegar and want to use lemons and lemon juice even on my salads every day, even on my sorrel. Is it true that (somebody told me) you should not add salt when you cook or steam the greens of any kind of greens, that you should add salt when greens are rinsed and cooled?

Sorrel has been called a herb, a salad green and a vegetable. It can be used fresh or cooked. There are two types grown for culinary use -- common or garden sorrel which has long pointed leaves, and French sorrel which has smaller rounder leaves. The flavour is a citrus tang which becomes more intense as it matures. The name derives from old French surele, meaning sour. It is a member of the buckwheat family (rhubarb a member also) and is high in oxalic acid.

Growing: Sorrel is a hardy perennial, starting from seed or bedding plants. It likes direct sun but will tolerate part shade and can be planted after the late spring frost. Dig it up and divide every four years, replanting the heartiest sections.

Cooking: Sorrel can be used with or in place of spinach. To reduce the acidity blanch in water before using (then discard water). Wash well and dry with a salad spinner. Remove leaves from stems. It is good with a little lemon juice added. You may want to try lime juice too. Chop and add to salads, sauces (especially for fish), soups (i.e. leek and potato, green pea) and herb butters (for vegetables and fish), in omelettes, baked eggs. Stir thin strips of sorrel into mashed potatoes. Try it in a spinach salad with bacon, mushrooms and toasted walnuts. When eating fresh, harvest just before using to keep it’s crispness. It can be frozen as a puree.

Cooking idea: Cook leaves in a bit of water for a few minutes; drain. Melt butter in a frypan (saut=E9 shallots first if desired), make a roux with a bit of flour, add a little cream and the cooked sorrel. Use sauce on fish or vegetables.

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