Random Edibles #1: Sorrel

Spinach Dock is another name for Common or Garden Sorrel and Narrow-leaved Dock. Sorrel is has a lemon-like sour flavor. The bright green, oblong leaves of this sorrel variety grow atop long, narrow stems with a habit similar to spinach. Sorrel is easy to grow in cool months, and it tends to spread. Sorrel has a long history as an herb and green-leaf vegetable. Also known as rau chua (sour herb) or rau thom (fresh herb) in Vietnamese, sorrel is used fresh and raw in Asian cuisine, lending its strong flavor in small amounts. In parts of Africa, it is added with spinach to meat stew. In western recipes, it is more often cooked as a green in soup or in cream sauce with fish or chicken, or as a wrap to tenderized meat or fish. Sow seeds in spring after danger of all frost. Harvest side leaves on small plants and full leaf cutting above the crown on mature plants.

(Also keep in mind this is NOT the sorrel plant, Hibiscus sabdariffa. Also called “Roselle”, it is an annual or perennial herb or woody-based subshrub, growing to 7–8 ft tall. Roselle grows well here in Florida, but that’s a plant for another posting.)


I was at Weatherbee Nursery again today, and picked up several hot pepper plants as well as

an old favorite, sorrel. Picking through the sorrel plants for sale, I chose two plants that already had smaller offshoots growing, doubling my yield immediately. I’ll be placing these in my northernmost bed, bed #1. This bed tends to do best with cooler weather crops, as I try to keep taller shading plants, like sunflowers, south of it, in order to allow for the cooler crops. A method to my madness!

Sorrel has a lemony flavor I prefer over lemongrass (I have that growing as well), since every time I smell lemongrass, I think of Pledge furniture polish. Lemongrass is also MUCH harder to chew, so doesn’t lend itself to being directly consumed like sorrel does.

The sour flavor is caused by oxalic acid, the main component of kidney stones. (You may need to avoid eating sorrel if you are prone to developing these stones; talk to your physician for a recommendation on this food. Additionally, it can also kick up stomach acid, which can worsen heartburn, and it also has a diuretic effect.)

When cooking sorrel, do not use cast iron or aluminum cookware. Cast iron skillets and pots are verboten because the oxalic acid in this green reacts with the metals to produce a metallic flavor in the sorrel that makes it inedible. When using aluminum, the acids in this food may allow potentially toxic quantities of aluminum ions to escape from the cookware. However, cooking does tend to reduce the oxalic acid.

I prefer it in small quantities raw, in salads. In France, it is famous in Sorrel Soup.

Herbal info:

Sorrel is used for reducing sudden and ongoing pain and swelling (inflammation) of the nasal passages and respiratory tract, for treating bacterial infections along with conventional medicines, and for increasing urine flow (as a diuretic). Sorrel is also an ingredient in the herbal cancer treatment Essiac.

In combination with gentian root, European elder flower, verbena, and cowslip flower, sorrel is used orally for maintaining healthy sinuses and treating sinusitis.
(Sorrel contains tannins, which have a drying effect to reduce mucous production.)

Green Deane has a great write-up about it, as well as a video:


So it seems to be a scary food to try, but in reality, it isn’t. Humans have been eating it for centuries, and will probably continue to do so.


I know I will :)



  1. Great info there. Also good to know that there are places around that sell plants like that. Let me know if you find any fresh Ramps.


    1. Ramps are a very seasonal item, and a local item to boot. The farthest south I’ve ever seen them is SC. I have a hookup in the Asheville, NC area, but they just had a baby, so probably won’t be digging any ramps this season.

      I do have some in the freezer…they store fairly well that way….

      We can always just plan a ramp-run for next spring…..

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