Sorrel: a perennial herbaceous plant


With the onset of spring, everything begins to bloom and grow. Our stomach is happy about the onset of spring, as is our mental state. 

I loved childhood so much to sit in the meadow and enjoy everything around me. Weave wreaths of dandelions and clover, study the wilted insects and look for the newly grown little sorrel. Read a full handful of sorrel and bring home to respect the family. 

Sorrel, like rhubarb, is a great ingredient in meals. 

Let's look at what is really sour; what they give us. And, of course, what can we make from them. 


Sorrel (Latin name - Rumex acetosa), also known as common or garden sorrel, is a perennial herb belonging to the family Polygonaceae. They are common in grassland habitats and are often cultivated as leafy vegetables or herbs.

Sorrel are one of the first field vegetables in spring. In one place sorrel can grow for several years, however, after 3 years of growth, the sour yield decreases. Sorrel is cold and frost resistant. They overwinter very well in the open field. Oxalic acid is demanding of moisture. They do best in fertile, loose, well-structured soil. 

By the way, sorrel is common on almost all continents. They are found throughout Europe from the northern shores of the Mediterranean to northern Scandinavia and Central Asia. They occur as an imported species in New Zealand, Australia and In North America.

Seed sowing

Sorrel can be sown from April. The seeds are relatively fine. Sorrel seeds begin to germinate at a temperature of + 2-3 ° C. The optimal germination temperature is + 15-17 ° C. At a substrate temperature of + 18-20 ° C, oxal seedlings appear after 6-8 days. Sorrel can be sown practically all summer until the end of August. In warm autumns, it can also be done in September. Sorrel can also be grown from seedling, but direct sowing is easier. If the sorrel is sown in early spring - it will be sown in August, and sown in autumn - in June next year. Sorrel is sown in rows 25 - 40 cm apart. The seeds are relatively fine, so when sowing sorrel seeds by hand, thinning will be required after the sorrel germination, leaving 15 - 20 cm between plants. distance.

Oxygen cultivation

High temperature is not required for the development of sour leaves. The buds activate even at temperatures slightly above + 0 ° C. The best acid growth temperature is + 15 ° C to 18 ° C. At too high a temperature, especially in the absence of moisture, the sorrel blooms quickly and the leaf yield is low. Regular dry watering not only increases the acid yield, it also increases the plants' natural resistance to diseases and pests. If the sorrel hollow is covered with a film - in early spring it is possible to get the first harvest very quickly.

Sorrel are long-day plants, begin to bloom at 15 h light day and more (in Latvia it is already in May). Sorrel seeds ripen in July, August. They tolerate frost down to -10 ° C.

Acids grow well in moist soils, so watering is required in dry springs. In places where water has accumulated for a long time, sorrel does not grow and even disappears.

Nutrients - fertilizers, nitrogen - play a very important role in the growth of oxalates. The dose of fertilizer depends on the sowing time of the sorrel. If the harvest is regular and intensive, additional nitrogen (N) is given after each harvest.

The biggest work in growing sorrel is weed control, especially growing sorrel in one place for several years. For this reason, it is recommended to grow sorrel in one place for no more than 2 years.

In the second year of cultivation, it is better to prune the sorrel stems regularly and this should be done several times a season. In the second year of cultivation, after the first early harvest in June, the sorrel tends to mow about 10 cm above the ground to prevent the formation of inflorescences. After that, pruning the leaves and inflorescences should be repeated regularly.

Sorrel feels and grows better if the leaves are twisted alternately rather than all in a row - we read the larger, smaller to August.

Acids for health

Acids contain a lot of vitamin C, carotene, flavon glycosides, potassium, iron, polyphenols, flavonoids and minerals, as well as protein. They contain a lot of oxalic acid, which interferes with the absorption of calcium in the intestine. 

Acids stimulate liver function and bile formation. Intensifies intestinal peristalsis, stops internal bleeding. In ancient times, sorrel was a great tool in the fight against zinc, thanks to its vitamin C.

They are useful for the health of the digestive system, normalization of high blood pressure, eye health, strengthening immunity and improving overall health. Acids also have a diuretic effect.

There are indications in ancient writings that acids are mainly used fresh for medicinal purposes. Acids reduced the fever, so they were given to patients. Legend has it that the birds were eating their seeds to clear their voices. 

Remember to eat everything in moderation. Oxalic acid contains a lot of oxalic acid, which can be bad for you too health.

The most popular varieties of sorrel

Garden sorrel is formed from several species of wild sorrel.

Belwilski - an early variety

Belwilski - early variety. The most common and oldest type of sorrel variety is Belleville sorrel. They are distinguished by late flowering and smoother leaves.

Broadleaved - broadleaf sorrel

Broadleaved - broadleaf sorrel. They are earlier, but also bloom earlier. The leaves of these sorrel can also be slightly wrinkled leaves.

Red veined - red-veined sorrel

Red wines - red-veined sorrel variety. 

Single - red leaf sorrel

Single - red leaf sorrel. The leaves are dark red to purple.

Ruber - purple-red sorrel

Ruber - purple-red sorrel.

Sorrel dishes

It seems to me that when we talk about sorrel, how to make it, the first thing that comes to mind is sorrel soup. Well, at least I didn't go down without explaining myself first. 

Sorrel can be eaten fresh, in salads, drinks, soups, etc.

It is not recommended to cook sorrel in iron or aluminum containers, as these metals interact with oxalic acid and create an unpleasant, metallic taste.


sorrel soup

Fast sorrel soup

Fast sorrel and spinach soup

Cold sorrel soup

Sour salad

Jamaican sour drink

Look for similar and other recipes in the section - recipes!

Sour cuisine in other countries

Ordinary acid has been cultivated for centuries. The leaves are edible at a young age but are hardy with age; they can be thickened in soups and sauces or added to salads. The plant has a pronounced sharp, sour taste. It contains oxalic acid, which can be poisonous in large quantities.

Different varieties of sorrel are consumed in different ways in different countries. In some countries they are mainly used in soups and salads, in others - sauces are made from them, and in others - tea is brewed. In traditional Slavic cuisine, sorrel leaves are also used as a filling for pies and other baked goods.

In northern Nigeria, sorrel is used in stews, usually with spinach. In some Haus communities, it is steamed and salads are made. In India, the leaves are used in soups or curries made from yellow lentils and peanuts. In Afghanistan, the leaves are covered with moist dough and baked, then served as a snack or a break.

In Eastern Europe, wild or garden sorrel is used to make sour soups stewed with vegetables or greens, meat or eggs. In the Greek countryside they are used with spinach and leeks. 

In Albania, the leaves are stewed and served cold, marinated in olive oil or as an ingredient in byrek me lakra. In Armenia, the leaves are collected in the spring, woven into braids and dried for winter use.

Salmon escalope sorrel sauce, invented in 1962 by the Troisgros brothers, is a symbol of French symbol cuisine. French cuisine traditionally boils fish with sorrel, because their acidity dissolves in thin fish collar.

How to save sorrel for the winter?

For winter, sorrel can be prepared by drying, freezing and canning. The food made from the dried ones is not so sour, and when you add more, you can taste the straw a little. Frozen sorrel is the most acidic and does not break down so quickly compared to canned soup. Canned food is the most neutral, and you can add onions, parsley and dill, supplementing the soup or stew with the necessary herbs in winter.

Sour drying

To dry the sorrel well, it is best to string it in a thread, just like mushrooms, and hang it in a shady place. Strong drafts are not recommended as they reduce the amount of valuable substances in the leaves. The dried sorrel is placed in an airtight container and stored in a place free from sunlight.

Oxygen freezing

Freezing is the fastest way to prepare sorrel for the winter.

The sorrel is washed, the hard stems are cut off. Put in a colander and soak for a short time in boiling water, then cool rapidly in ice-cold water (it is the content of valuable substances that depends on rapid cooling - the faster you act, the less loss). Then drain the excess water, fill the mass into containers according to portions and freeze. In hot water, the leaves coincide strongly and take up much less space. If there is enough space in the freezer, put fresh leaves in boxes or bags. Urgent housewives may not even cut them - in winter they are removed from the freezer, the bag is squeezed by hand, and the sorrel breaks into pieces.

Sorrel cannedshana

Canned acids have the best taste when added to herbs - dill, onion, parsley.

Interesting facts about acids

  • Botanists classify sorrel as a cosmopolitan plant because it is found on all continents except Antarctica, as well as on many islands. There are about 150 of its types. Some of its varieties are even considered weeds due to their vitality.
  • The source of the sour name has not yet been determined.
  • Acids are extremely unpretentious, they can grow in different conditions if they have enough sunlight. Often they even grow on roadsides and even in landfills. Sorrel seeds are carried by the wind and germinate easily when they fall to the ground.
  • The roots of many sorrel species are high in tannins and have been used in the past to tan the skin. Sorrel also contains natural dyes from which red and yellow colors can be obtained. But in today's world, the production of artificial dyes is still cheaper.
  • Sorrel is a surprisingly hardy plant, it grows on all continents, easily in the wild and assimilates into new premises, and is found even high in the mountains, up to 3000-3300 m above sea level.
  • Sliced ​​sorrel is not stored for a long time, it quickly begins to wither, losing its taste and aroma, because the nutrients in it decompose. You can wrap them in a plastic bag and place the cut leaves in a container with water, keep in the refrigerator, thus prolonging the "life" of the sorrel.
  • Horse sorrel in Azerbaijan and Armenia. The leaves are dried, then they lose their bitterness and acquire a pleasant taste. The new stalks and leaves of horse sorrel are part of several dishes in Uzbekistan.
  • Since ancient times, many species of sorrel have been known as medicinal plants. All their parts are used - rhizomes, seeds, stems, leaves. Depending on the type of acid, plant part and raw material processing method, the final product is used as a remedy for lichens, scabies, certain tumors, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and much more.
  • Even healthy people cannot eat large amounts of acidic acid because they contain large amounts of oxalic acid. And for people with gastritis, ulcers and other diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, it is better to completely exclude them from nutrition.