Common sorrel, or garden sorrel, has been used for centuries as an edible plant all over the world. In many countries, it's used in traditional local dishes, often together with spinach.
Where to Find It
Common sorrel thrives in slightly moist to dry soil all over Denmark. You'll often find it on slopes, grasslands, and in other places with lots of sun. Common sorrel also grows in ditches, on lawns, and along roads and paths.
Towns, hedges, roadsides, grasslands.
When to Find It
You can find common sorrel from March until October, but it's best to pick it before and after it flowers (while it blooms, the leaves are quite rough and bitter). If it's cut down and and allowed to grow back, you can pick the young leaves until October.
Entire plant: March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October.
How to Spot It
Common sorrel has a thin stem that can grow to be almost a meter tall. It often branches out and forms several slightly twisted tops with small, rust-colored flowers that grow close to the stem. The stem rises from a bunch of oval-shaped leaves that resemble egg-shaped arrowheads with small barbs at the bottom. Common sorrel contains oxalic acid, which can be slightly toxic if consumed in large amounts, so only eat a little bit at a time.
How to Pick It
The entire plant is edible, but the leaves are the most delicious. It’s best to pick them when they're young.
On the palate
Common sorrel has a fresh, lemony acidity with fruity notes reminiscent of kiwi. The baby leaves have a hint of sweetness and are tender and slightly crisp on the palate.
Common sorrel has no particular scent.
Unlike other acidic herbs, common sorrel can tolerate cooking very well—the leaves retain their flavor when heated, imparting their sour flavor to dishes. You can purée the leaves or mix them into sauces, juices, and soups. The flavor comes through strongest, however, when the plant is used raw in cold dishes or as a topping.
Use common sorrel to add fresh acidity to your cooking. It's a good herb to experiment with in the kitchen, as it can be used like lemon. Raw sorrel brightens dishes and balances out flavors, especially intense ones, making it well suited for spicy recipes. In many countries, it is used in mashed potatoes, stews, or soups. In addition to spinach, common sorrel can be paired with potatoes, lentils, salads, mild stews like veal fricassee, fish and shellfish, grilled zucchini, fried eggplant, and cream-based desserts.
Cover the common sorrel with a moist cloth and store in a sealed bag or airtight container inside the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where the leaves will stay fresh for up to one week.
Other acidic plants like wood sorrel or sheep's sorrel can be substituted for common sorrel. Japanese knotweed is also a possible substitute, but less ideal.
Risk of misidentifying the plant
There is no risk of mistaking the plant for another dangerous or undesirable plant.