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Sorrel (Rumex scutatus)

Sorrel - Vegetable

How to grow

Sorrel likes the cooler weather so it’s an ideal plant to get going in early March as it will happily provide leafy greens all winter long if situated in a well-drained, composted garden bed with plenty of sun. Come summer, it tends to bolt and produce long red stalks covered with masses of seeds, which then have a habit of insinuating themselves hither and yon throughout your garden. Best to nip the flower stalks out and chop the plant right back to the ground. It will come away again just fine with a new crop of delectable young green leaves. Unless you are feeding an army, one or two sorrel plants are plenty and if you are limited for space, sorrel is quite happy to grow in a pot. Grows well with strawberry and blueberry.

Planting in light shade and keeping the seed stalks cut increases summer quality and good leaves will reappear in autumn even if plants bolt.Sorrel is a plant with evergreen tenacity and tasty leaves that are always ready to pick. It has been a mainstay in my garden forever, albeit that I move fairly regularly: I either collect a seed or four to germinate, or dig up a piece of the root and replant it – and off it grows again. Although sorrel can go to seed twice a year, once a plant is established, all it needs is a chop back and a bit of compost every now and then to keep it healthy. The red-veined variety is one of my favourite salad greens with its uniquely patterned leaves.

The sorrel I am speaking of here, the one most commonly used for salads and cooking, is Rumexacetosa, also known as sour dock. There is another popular rounder-leaf variety known as French sorrel (Rumexscutatus). Both have a distinctive lemony flavour, ideal for pesto, smoothies, salads and soups. Sorrel can be used, cooked, in place of spinach in many recipes. It can also add the citrus tang to a dish to replace a lemon, especially in fish.Used as a cure and preventative for scurvy for centuries, sorrel, like watercress and chickweed, is high in vitamin C. It is known to remove excess fluid from the body and contains oxalic acid (which gives it the sour taste) so beware if you suffer from gout or heartburn – don’t overdo it.

Health and medicinal benefits

Indians, Mexicans, and Africans use it as a diuretic, to thin blood, and to lower blood pressure. Jamaican Sorrel is high in vitamins and minerals with powerful antioxidant properties. It helps lower elevated blood pressure, bad cholesterol and detoxifies the entire body.Sorrel is a nutritional powerhouse, providing significant amounts of important micronutrients, including vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that helps you to maintain healthy vision, skin, immune function, growth, and reproductive health. You'll also get a significant boost of vitamin C, an important antioxidant that helps your body to resist infection.

An 1-cup serving of sorrel also provides about 4 grams of fiber1 to help you maintain regular bowel movements, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar. Fiber may also help ward against certain health conditions including cancer, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. One cup (133 grams) of fresh, raw garden sorrel (spinach dock) provides only about 29 calories. A serving of the herb also provides 2.6 grams of protein and just under 1 gram of fat. A cup of sorrel also provides 4.26 grams of carbohydrate, almost all of which is fiber, according to USDA data.Vitamins in sorrel include vitamin A (5320 IU or 106 percent of your daily recommended intake), vitamin C (64 mg or 106 percent of your daily recommended intake), and folate (about 4 percent of your recommended daily intake). You'll also get small amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid.Minerals in sorrel include calcium (56 mg), iron (3.2mg), magnesium (137 mg) phosphorus (84mg), potassium (519 mg), manganese (0.5 mg), and small amounts of sodium, zinc, and copper. 

If you are going to use Sorrel to treat an existing health condition please consult with your healthcare provider first.