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.
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.
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