Sorrel: A sour grass that fits many tastes

Wells Homestead in Aquebogue is one of the few places on the North Fork to sell Sorrel (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Wells Homestead in Aquebogue (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Every morning on my way into work, I pass Wells Homestead in Aquebogue.

The red farm stand on Main Road is eye-catching — even more so lately now that it’s filled with beautiful spring flowers.

Several weeks ago, it caught my eye again when I noticed a sign advertising sorrel.

“What is sorrel?” I asked myself. “Do you eat it? How is it prepared?”

After some weeks of wondering, I decided to stop in.

The Wells family has been farming in Aquebogue for more than 450 years and for the past two decades the farm stand has been run by Susan Wells. She sells her homegrown flowers along with local fruits and vegetables.

She also sells a lot of sorrel.

“Sorrel is a perennial herb,” Wells said. “Its common name is sour grass because it has a real sour flavor.”

Wells said she buys cut sorrel from Schmitt’s Farm in Riverhead and also grows and sells her own sorrel plants. While it does grow wild, it can be cultivated.

Sorrel for sale at Wells Homestead in Aquebogue (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Sorrel for sale at Wells Homestead in Aquebogue. (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Wells said sorrel is not a main ingredient. Many Europeans use it in soup, in which the leaves are chopped and cooked with potatoes, onions and broth. All of the ingredients are then pureed together and cream is added.

“One customer from Africa buys sorrel to make a sauce,” Wells said. “That customer slices it, sautés it, then cooks it with chicken, while others cook it with fish like salmon.”

Debbie Schmitt of Schmitt’s Farm said sorrell is very popular with Riverhead’s Polish community.

“They like to put it in their soups,” she said.

These days the Schmitts grow about an acre of sorrel, with most of it going to Gold Food Products in Hempstead where its used to make a Schav soup.

Anyone interested in trying sorrel should grab some now.

“It has a very short season,” Wells said. “Really just the month of May and then it’ll be done, but I grow it in pots, so if there’s no more sorrel you can buy a plant and grow it yourself.”

Try this recipe by Wells Homestead:

Potato & Sorrel Soup

1.5 lb boiling potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 lb sorrel leaves, washed and stems removed
2 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped leeks or onions
6 cups chicken broth
lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 – 1 cup heavy cream
Fold the sorrel leaves in half and slice into thin shreds. You should have 5-6 cups.
Heat the butter and cook the leeks till wilted. Add the potatoes, broth and 3 cups of the sorrel.
Cook until potatoes are tender. Puree ingrediants then return to the saucepan and reheat.
Taste for seasoning, adding lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir in remaining sorrel and cook until wilted. Add cream to taste. Serve either very hot or chilled. Serves 6.
Susan Wells runs Wells Homestead in Aquebogue (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Susan Wells runs Wells Homestead in Aquebogue. (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Wells Homestead is located at 460 Main Road in Aquebogue. For more information call 631-722-3796 or visit wellshomestead.com.

Schmitt’s Farm is located at 3355 Sound Avenue in Riverhead. For more information call (631) 807-9420 or visit schmittfamilyfarm.com

Sang Lee Farms in Peconic also sells sorrel plants, they are located at 48 Peconic Drive N. in Peconic. For more information call (631) 734-7001 or visit sangleefarms.com.