Slightly sharp and sour, refreshing and crisp, sorrel lends its flavor to green salads, omelettes and sauces for fish and meats. A soup made with sorrel tastes like the essence of spring. As a member of the buckwheat family and a cousin of yellowdock and rhubarb, sorrel is mainly a culinary herb, but it has a history of curative use too.
Charlemagne mandated that sorrel be grown as an appetite stimulant and fever remedy. Later, it was given to the Plague-stricken during the Middle Ages in an effort to stop the progress of the epidemic. Although most no longer believe that it has such curative potency, sorrel is still considered an effective diuretic and a good source of vitamin C and iron. Also, as Charlemagne once believed the flavorful herb can indeed help to stimulate the appetite and cool down fevers; it heals infammations and improves anemia, too. Stronger herbs may be more effective, but few offer health benefits that are so delightful to consume.
Use only young leaves for salads and cooking. Older leaves are exceedingly sour and have a bad after taste. Sorrel lightens the taste of heavy vegetables. Add fresh leaves, chopped or whole, to beets, turnips or rutabagas. Lightly steamed sorrel goes well with rich meats, cutting the dense flavor of roast pork or duck.
The juice of sorrel leaves can be substituted for rennet to curdle milk for making cottage cheese. Add 1 tsp. of chopped fresh sorrel leaves to one cup of milk, and use for use in recipes that call for sour cream.
In a blender, puree' 1/4 cup packed sorrel leaves, 2 tbsp. tamari, 2 tbsp. rice wine, 1 tbsp. mustard, 2 tbsp. oilve oil, and 1/2 tsp. grated orange rind. Brush on vegetables just before grilling, or marinate tough or fatty meats in the sauce overnight.