As soon as spring was in the air I knew it was only a matter of time before sorrel reappeared on the allotment. It isn't the most handsome plant by any means but it's always a welcome sight because it's the first salad crop that starts growing after the winter. In fact, it's actually tough enough to cope with the frosts that we can still experience into late spring / early summer making it a real winner as a reliable early leafy green.
Sorrel is a green leaf vegetable native to Europe. It is also called common sorrel or spinach dock, and is actually considered less a vegetable and more an herb in some cultures. In appearance sorrel greatly resembles spinach and in taste sorrel can range from comparable to the kiwifruit in young leaves, to a more acidic tasting older leaf. As sorrel ages it tends to grow more acidic due to the presence of oxalic acid, which actually gets stronger and tastes more prominent.
Young sorrel may be harvested to use in salads, soups or stews giving an amazingly zingy taste wherever you use it. If you are planning on using sorrel in salads, it’s a good idea to stick with small tender leaves that have the fruitier and less acidic taste. Young sorrel leaves are also excellent when lightly cooked, similar to the taste of cooked chard or spinach. For soups and stews, older sorrel can be used because it adds tang and flavor to the dish.
From a nutritional standpoint sorrel has high levels of vitamins A nd C. It also contrains moderate levels of calcium, potassium and magnesium meaning it packs a big nutritional punch for a little leaf. However, it is worth noting that it contains very high levels of oxalic acid meaning it may not be suitable for people with kidney problems or rheumatism. And when you first start eating it try it in small doses - it's got a laxative effect if you eat too much of it!