Sorrel Plant Uses – Tips On Using Sorrel Herbs In Cooking

Plate Full Of Sorrel Herbs
(Image credit: JuliaLototskaya)

Sorrel is an herb that is commonly used throughout the world but has failed to pique the interest of most Americans, most likely because they don’t know how to use sorrel. Cooking with sorrel herb plants enhances a dish, lifting it to new heights. There are a number of sorrel plant uses in the kitchen; the herb can be eaten fresh or cooked and has a bright, lemony tang. In the following article, we discuss using sorrel herbs in the kitchen. 

What are Sorrel Herb Plants?

Sorrel herb plants are small edible green-leafed plants related to rhubarb and buckwheat. There are three main varieties: broadleaf, French (buckler leaf), and red-veined sorrel.

Broadleaf sorrel has slender, arrow-shaped leaves while French sorrel herb plants have small, bell-like leaves. Red-veined sorrel looks exactly as it sounds and is streaked with bright red veins across green leaves.

Sorrel Plant Uses

Common sorrel has been cultivated for hundreds of years. It has a tangy, refreshing flavor reminiscent of kiwi or sour wild strawberries. This tangy to sharp twang is the result of oxalic acid.

You can find Nigerians using sorrel herbs cooked into stews or steamed along with roasted peanut cakes, salt, pepper, onion, and tomatoes. In India, the herb is used in soups or curries. In Afghanistan, sorrel herb leaves are dipped into a batter and then deep fried and served either as an appetizer or during Ramadan, to break the fast.

Cooking with sorrel is popular in Eastern Europe where it is used in soups, stewed with vegetables, or added to meat or egg dishes. The Greeks add it to spanakopita, a phyllo pastry stuffed with spinach, leeks, and feta cheese.

In Albania, sorrel leaves are simmered, marinated in olive oil, and used to fill byrek pies. In Armenia, the leaves of sorrel herb plants are woven into braids and dried for winter use, most often a soup of onions, potatoes, walnuts, garlic, and bulgur or lentils.

How to Use Sorrel

If some of the above ideas aren’t your cup of tea, there are many other ways of using sorrel herbs. Just remember that mature leaves are quite intense. If you are using sorrel leaves fresh in a salad, only use the tender young leaves and be sure to mix them with other types of salad greens so the flavor is married and not quite so intense.

Large sorrel leaves should be cooked; otherwise, they are just too spicy. When cooked, sorrel leaves break down just like spinach does, making it good for use in sauces. Use a sauce of sorrel leaves with fish, especially fatty or oily fish, which will lighten and brighten the meal.

Sorrel turns pesto into something on another plane. Just combine sorrel leaves, fresh garlic cloves, Marcona almonds, grated parmesan, and extra virgin olive oil. You can’t beat salsa Verde made with sorrel leaves, mint, and parsley; try it over pork chops. 

Dice a bit of the herb and toss it into pasta dishes or wilt into soup. Wrap beef or fish in the leaves before grilling. The leaves of sorrel herb also complement a variety of poultry dishes and beautifully enliven rice or grain dishes.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes or otherwise, please consult a physician, medical herbalist or other suitable professional for advice.

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.