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Exploring Food: Sorrel

Margaret Sheets

Sometimes, if you’re like me and have zero experience with farming or eating fresh food, you have no idea what you’re eating. Luckily, with time, my palate has expanded and today I can embrace the flavors of whatever it is that I am putting into my mouth.

This summer, as part of my Taste the Local Difference® internship, I get my own CSA share every week from Loma Farm, in Traverse City. I get to pick up fresh food straight from the farm every week! How awesome is that?

As awesome as this is, it also means that I take home a lot of food I’ve never seen before. If you’re like me, all of the green, lettucy stuff looks the same. I can always recognize spinach, but when I see something that looks exactly like spinach and its not, I often get it wrong.

I drove over to Loma Farm to pick up my first CSA share two weeks ago. I loved visiting the place because I could see the ground that produced my food, and also meet the farmers who are working so hard for me.

Since I’ll pick up a new box of food each week, I will be discovering new foods and have the opportunity to cook with them. Because of this, I’m pushing myself to be creative and to make new things with my CSA share. Each week I want to cook with an item I have no experience with, and learn about it. I am in no way a chef, but I am ready to learn and try new things.

The first week my box contained broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard, salad mix, sorrel and scallions

Obviously I know broccoli, spinach, and salad mix. I had to look up scallions, and I had never heard of swiss chard or sorrel, so I chose sorrel as my first cooking challenge.

So—what is sorrel? It’s a small plant from the Polygonaceae family, which includes things like buckwheat and rhubarb. The leaves have a lemony tang. Since sorrel has such a pronounced flavor, you wouldn’t want a salad mix of just sorrel, but it is great mixed in with other types of lettuce. I found that sorrel is usually eaten raw in salads or cooked into a creamy soup or sauce.

I went home that weekend and brought my fresh veggies along with me so my mom, who is a very good cook, could help me create something. We were planning salmon for dinner one evening, and while researching things to make with sorrel, we found a sorrel sauce to go with the salmon.

It was perfect! Making the sauce was easy and quick. I first washed the sorrel, took the stems off, cut the leaves into thin strips, and put them in a bowl.

 

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The recipe called for heavy cream, but I substituted 2 percent milk. I poured the milk into a pot and put it on medium heat. Then I put 3 tablespoons of butter in another pot, melted it, and stirred in the sorrel. I stirred and heated the mixture until it turned army green.

Then I poured in the heated milk, stirred it together for a few minutes, added a little vermouth for more flavor, and continued stirring.

 

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And voilà! The sauce was complete. We poured it over the salmon and it tasted so good!

 

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It was fun to create something brand new with food I had never heard of. I will definitely keep sorrel in mind next time I need a nice sauce for dinner.

So, just like that, I learned a lot about how to cook with sorrel. I’m looking forward to picking up more shares at Loma and discovering new foods, new ways to fix them, and new tastes to liven up dinner.

A huge shoutout to Loma Farm for allowing me to have all this amazing food every week!

 

Margaret Sheets is the 2016 events intern at Taste the Local Difference® and she is a senior at Albion College. You can contact her at events@localdifference.org

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