Saturday, January 7, 2012

Eating the weeds: oxalis

While I was weeding my mother's succulent garden I was delighted to find several long-stemmed oxalis plants growing in it. Large leaves, pink flowers. I don't know which oxalis it is; many are native to the winter rainfall regions in South Africa. In Afrikaans oxalis is called suring, or ''souring", and the yellow-flowered kind, Oxalis pes-caprae, or Cape sorrel,  blooms in abundance in spring and is a traditional flavouring for bredies. The stems and leaves are very sour - oxys is Greek for acid, or sharp. If stock over graze on oxalis they become sick, and so would we, if we ate bucket loads: oxalic acid (also in broccoli, spinach, knotweed and sorrel). I nibbled the stems of the leaves in the succulent garden and yes, very tart.

I picked a small bunch and added it to the the lamb chop and green bean bredie already on the stove. After an hour they had melted away into juices of the stew, which was delicious. If you like such things. And I do.


  1. Sourgrass soup was my very first cooking endeavour at age 6! I foraged in the back yard and made a pot of something only a most loving parent could bring themselves to taste. I'm happy to see it used for more refined culinary purposes. You inspire me to try using it again as an adult with decently developed cooking skills.

  2. aw! how i miss them. I loved them when I was young. Would eat a few at a time. My face was a picture..hahhaha!

  3. Website information on foods with oxalic acid here:

    Interestingly, purslane is "high" in oxalic acid too. Looks like those prone to things like kidney stones and rheumatoid arthritis and gout need to be more careful than others.

    We LOVE the oxalic acid in "Bar Keepers Friend" for cleaning metal scuff marks in our white sink!

  4. I've been eating this 'weed' since I was 11. It grows all over here.

  5. Marie, are you in CT for a while? Be great to see you! X Fran

  6. We have this all the way around our house, and a few other sandy spaces. Will def add to my next salad, along with calendula petals, violas, and nasturtiums. Should be beautiful.


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