Five Ways to Enjoy Sheep Sorrel

Sheep sorrel, Rumex acetosella, is a weed from the Eurasian continent that especially likes to grow in disturbed areas like road sides. You’ll find it now on the sidewalk strips around town as well as in the grassy banks of the interstates. Look for a plant that looks like grass at first until you notice its distinctive brown-red flowers and arrow-shaped leaves. It usually grows about a foot high, not much higher.

The leaves have a lemony flavor very similar to Oxalis species (a.k.a. wood sorrel and sidewalk shamrock), as both contain that tart constituent known as oxalic acid. Sheep sorrel is high in Vitamin C and beta-carotene, too.

It was once a staple food during the Roman Iron Age around A.D. 400, when the juice of the leaves was used to curdle milk and tenderize meat, according to weed historian Pamela Jones. The plant is related to yellow dock.

Here are three more ways to enjoy sheep sorrel:

1. Eat the leaves raw in a salad.

2. Make a tasty summer drink with a recipe from Pamela Jones: 8 oz of sorrel leaves blended with 12 oz buttermilk, sweetened with honey. (I would substitute nondairy milk – do as you please, of course).

3. As a medicine, brew a tea of the leaves and drink it to kill intestinal worms. Don’t do this unless you’re sick, though, as large quantities of oxalic acid can reportedly hurt your kidneys.

Those rust-colored patches on the side of the highway are sheep sorrel.

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4 thoughts on “Five Ways to Enjoy Sheep Sorrel

  1. Not only is it tasty but it’s actually very good for you and can do much more than kill parasites. It’s also the main ingredient in essiac tea, which has been used to treat cancer and other diseases.

  2. Great little plant. My two and a half year old son gets so excited when we find a patch. He runs around stuffing it in his mouth, while I only get to pick a bit here and there so I can keep an eye on him.

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