Palatably bitter with an almost citrusy backnote (which is foodie-speak for "this stuff is yummy!), sorrel is a delicious green that is making a comeback to the culinary scene.

sorrel plantIt was a tasty accompaniment to a dinner of fresh baked trout and purslane. Sorrel is in the same family as spinach, chard, and even beets. The beautiful full arrow shaped leaves transform in taste from spring to fall, starting off slightly sweeter and increasing in bitterness as they mature. The bitterness is due to the high oxalic acid content, so while it is fine to eat them raw as an addition to salads or other fresh dishes, if they are mature, it is best to cook them up a little bit to break down the acid and make them more palatable.

From a culinary perspective, sorrel has a long history of use in a variety of cultural cuisines across Europe and into Asia and Africa. The Greek dish spanakopita (one of my absolute favorites) traditionally contains a blend of sorrel, chard, spinach and leeks. It is a common ingredient in many recipes in Nigeria, even drink recipes, and it’s found in culinary endeavors all across Northern Europe either as a stand alone or an ingredient in soups and stews. Its the citrusy backnote gives it a distinct flavor, making it well worth experimenting with.

sorrelsauteFrom a health perspective, sorrel is a great source of Vitamins C, A, and B. It has a nice variety of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It is high in fiber and the bitter quality acts as a digestive, enhancing peristalsis. It also sports some pretty awesome phytonutrients like flavonoids, anthocyanin, polyphenolic acid. Those add up to improved immune function and cardiovascular health, decreased systemic inflammation and elimination of oxidative stress. Research demonstrates that sorrel leaves contain chemical compounds that decrease the potential for tumor growth and cell mutation.
Sorrel was once upon a time a common kitchen ingredient but these days it’s a little harder to find, however, if you do come across it, I highly recommend giving it a taste.