Sheep's sorrel is a member of the garden sorrel family and it can be used in sweet and savory cooking to add acidity and juiciness to your dishes. In some countries, people use sheep's sorrel and garden sorrel to coagulate milk in cheese-making.
Where to Find It
Sheep's sorrel can be found in many different landscapes, but it prefers dry, rocky, and sandy soil, as well as lots of sun. It's very common in dry areas of forests and grasslands, but can also grow in ditches and near buildings.
Deciduous forests, coniferous forests, towns, hedges, roadsides, grasslands.
When to Find It
Sheep's sorrel blooms from June until August, but you can pick it year round as long as the winter is mild.
Leaves: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.
How to Spot It
Sheep's sorrel is a reddish-colored herb with a thin stem that can grow to be around 40 cm tall. The stem often branches out and forms several slightly twisted tops. It shoots up from a bunch of small leaves that resemble narrow arrowheads with small barbs at the bottom. Sheep's sorrel develops small, red flowers at the top that grow all the way up the stem and look like buds. It contains oxalic acid, which can be toxic if consumed in large amounts, so only eat a little bit at a time.
How to Pick It
People typically use the leaves for food, but the whole plant is edible.
On the palate
Sheep's sorrel tastes sweet with a hint of acidity and a slight bitterness at the end. The leaves are soft and a little crisp, and they dry out the mouth just a bit.
Sheep's sorrel has no particular scent.
The leaves of sheep's sorrel should be used fresh and raw. They’ll turn brown if heated, so use them in cold preparations, or add them just before serving. The leaves can be puréed without losing much of their flavor.
Sheep's sorrel’s acidity brightens a dish like rhubarb ice cream, for example, and highlights the tartness of the other ingredients. It counterbalances the creaminess in preparations like risotto, and matches well with fried meat, eggs, fish, rich dishes, and desserts. Use it in light sauces, salads, and dressings. The leaves are small and decorative, so it's best to use them whole.
Cover the sheep's 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 common sorrel or wood sorrel can substitute for sheep's 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.