Can you eat sourgrass?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “Can you eat sourgrass?”. We will further consider what sourgrass is, what it looks and tastes like, why sourgrass is sour, the safety of eating it, the health benefits and potential downsides of eating sourgrass, and how to eat sourgrass in diverse ways. 

Can you eat sourgrass?

Yes, you can eat sourgrass. The leaves, stems, and flowers are edible. However, you should be cautious about eating these as they can contain high levels of oxalic acid and can be detrimental to your health if taken in excess amounts. 

What is sourgrass?

Sourgrass, popularly known as the yellow oxalis or lemon cover, is a plant native to North America that thrives in open shade and sunlight and is most frequently found in meadows, lawns, and open fields. 

The plant belongs to the oxalic genus and is similar to clover even though they belong to a different family. It is also commonly called woodsorrel. 

There are over 500 species in the family of woodsorrel, including Oxalis stricta, the yellow sourgrass; Oxalis corniculata, the creeping sourgrass; Oregon oxalis with purple flowers, also known as the red sourgrass; Oxalis violacea, commonly known as the violet sourgrass; and several other species. 

What does sourgrass look like?

The sourgrass, or oxalis, grows like little bulbils and appears like a small variety of clover, although it has no nitrogen-fixing properties. The plant produces 3 heart-shaped leaflets and 5 petaled yellow flowers from spring to fall. 

What does sourgrass taste like?

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the sourgrass are edible but have a tangy sour flavour, hence its name, sourgrass or oxalis. When steeped to make tea, it is similar to lemonade. 

Why is sourgrass sour?

The sourgrass or oxalis is sour mainly due to its oxalic acid content, which gives it its name. Oxalic acid is not only present in sourgrass as several common foods such as rhubarb, chocolate, coffee, beets and dark green leafy vegetables all contain significant levels of the potentially toxic chemical if consumed in large amounts. 

Is it safe to eat sourgrass?

It is generally safe to eat sourgrass flowers and leaves raw or cooked with no problems at all. It is, however, important to eat it in moderation as they contain oxalic acid, the main constituent that gives them the sour taste. Oxalic acid intake in large amounts can be detrimental, so eat them safely in moderation. 

What are the health benefits of eating sourgrass?

The wild plant is full of diverse nutrients and their popular usage for medicinal purposes. 

  • The minor and apportioned intake of sourgrass provides a lot of vitamin C that can help build the immune system and keep it fit against diseases. 
  • Sourgrass is consumed in medicinal doses to cool the skin and calm the stomach, induce urination, and act as an astringent.
  • The leaves are consumed as a herb for several diseases, including fever, scurvy, sore throats, mouth sores, nausea, and urinary tract infections. 
  • It is also consumed as a means of cleaning the blood, as some even believe it can treat cancer. 

What are the potential downsides of eating sourgrass?

You must consume sourgrass in moderate amounts when taken raw or used in food recipes. 

  • The oxalis contains significant amounts of potassium oxalate and oxalic acid, which can produce lethal effects in large amounts. 
  • They can also be toxic to people with kidney problems, gout, and arthritis when taken in large amounts. 
  • Excessive intake of sourgrass can also lead to problems with nutrient absorption due to the high levels of oxalic acids. 

How to eat sourgrass?

You can eat sourgrass leaves, stems, and flowers in diverse ways, and they are commonly consumed for their medicinal and health benefits. These tips are great ways to sneak sourgrass into anyway:

  • The leaves and flowers of sourgrass can be eaten raw, which possess an intense, sour and lemony flavour. 
  • You can also steep the leaves and flowers of sourgrass in hot water to make a lemony and sour tea with great health benefits. 
  • The leaves are also popularly used as herbs in seasoning several varieties of savoury dishes. 
  • You can add sourgrass to green salads, potato salads, fruit salads, and grain salads to provide a mildly sour flavour and a charming yellow appearance from its edible flowers. 
  • You can add sourgrass to smoothie recipes to provide a wild lemony flavour which is fantastic to have. 
  • Add a small amount of sourgrass to cooked recipes like soups, frittatas, or casseroles to produce a slightly acidic flavour.
  • Blend sourgrass with butter to give a nice flavour to your roasted and baked fish recipes.  

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “Can you eat sourgrass?”. We have further considered what sourgrass is, what it looks and tastes like, why sourgrass is sour, the safety of eating it, the health benefits and potential downsides of eating sourgrass, and how to eat sourgrass in diverse ways. 

Citation

https://www.foragesf.com/blog/2019/12/5/oxalis-thats-sour-grass-to-all-you-kids-out-there
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/weeds/yellow-woodsorrel-uses.htm

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.