Using Sorrel Herbs – How To Prepare Sorrel Plants

Chopping Of Sorrel Plants On A Cutting Board
(Image credit: scull2)

Sorrel is a lesser used herb that at one time was a tremendously popular cooking ingredient. It is once again finding its place amongst foodies, and with good reason. Sorrel has a flavor that is lemony and grassy, and lends itself beautifully to many dishes. Interested in cooking with sorrel? Read on to learn how to prepare sorrel and what to do with sorrel.

About Using Sorrel Herbs

In Europe, cooking with sorrel (Rumex scutatus) was commonplace during the Middle Ages. The type of sorrel that Europeans initially grew was R. acetosa until a milder form was developed in Italy and France. This milder herb, French sorrel, became the chosen form by the 17th century.

Sorrel plant uses were entirely culinary and the herb was used in soups, stews, salads, and sauces until it faded from favor. While sorrel was used in cooking, it imbued a healthy by-product. Sorrel is rich in vitamin C. Ingesting sorrel prevented people from getting scurvy, a serious and sometimes deadly disease.

Today, cooking with sorrel is enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

How to Prepare Sorrel

Sorrel is a leafy green herb that is available fresh in the spring. It is available at farmers’ markets or more often from your own backyard.

Once you have your sorrel leaves, use them within a day or two. Keep sorrel lightly wrapped in plastic in the fridge. To use sorrel, either chop it up to add to dishes, tear the leaves to include in salads, or cook the leaves down and then puree and freeze for use later.

What to Do with Sorrel

Sorrel plant uses are many and varied. Sorrel can be treated as both a green and herb. It pairs beautifully with sweet or fatty dishes.

Try adding sorrel to your salad for a tangy twist or pair it with goat cheese on crostini. Add it to quiche, omelets, or scrambled eggs or sauté it with greens like chard or spinach. Sorrel enlivens dull ingredients such as potatoes, grains, or legumes like lentils.

Fish benefits greatly from the green citrusy flavor of sorrel. Make a sauce from the herb or stuff an entire fish with it. A traditional use for sorrel is to pair it with cream, sour cream, or yogurt for use as a condiment with smoked or oily fish such as salmon or mackerel.

Soups, such as sorrel leek soup, benefit greatly from the herb as does stuffing or casseroles. In lieu of basil or arugula, try making sorrel pesto.

There are so many sorrel plant uses in the kitchen it really would benefit the cook to plant his or her own. Sorrel is easy to grow and it is a reliable perennial that will return year after year.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.