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Photo: Carolyn Tang
Sorrel
03.21.09, Carolyn Tang

Sorrel, also known as spinach dock or narrow-leaved dock, is a perennial herb with a palate-filling, lemon-like taste.  It is a slender plant with deep roots, juicy stems and edible leaves.  With oblong leaves and slender stems, sorrel greatly resembles spinach.  From a nutritional standpoint, sorrel has a good bit of vitamin A and C, and like spinach, has moderate levels of potassium, calcium and magnesium.


Sorrel is also quite delicate, so is often harvested by hand and thus almost impossible to find in the average grocery store.  Also, because the herb is so delicate, it will only keep about three days in the refrigerator.  However, if you do come upon a bunch in a farmer’s market, the know that the leaves are easily pureed in soups our causes, and are a lovely addition to salads.  They can also be lightly sautéed, though the leaves will lose their leafy nature and succumb to a saucy consistency.

John Evelyn, an English writer and gardener, thought sorrel lended “so grateful a quickness to the salad that it should never be left out.”  In 1720, he wrote:

'Sorrel sharpens the appetite, assuages heat, cools the liver and strengthens the heart; is an antiscorbutic, resisting putrefaction and in the making of sallets imparts a grateful quickness to the rest as supplying the want of oranges and lemons. Together with salt, it gives both the name and the relish to sallets from the sapidity, which renders not plants and herbs only, but men themselves pleasant and agreeable."

Sorrel does not dry well, so if you are looking to use it regularly, puree the leaves and store them in the freezer for future use. Use younger leaves for salads, and the larger leaves for cooking.  Finally, when adding sorrel, reduce the amount of lemon and vinegar in the recipe, as sorrel’s natural flavor yields a bit of both.

.taste
Salmon with Sorrel Sauce