Cocktail Oxalis pes-caprae

IN

Commonly known in South Africa as wild sorrel, suurangs or soursucks, Oxalis comes from the Greek name “oxis” meaning acid, referring to the taste of the stems. Pes-caprae comes from the Latin ‘pes‘ for foot and ‘caprae‘ for goat, referring to the resemblance of the outline of the leaf to the footprint of a goat, according to wikipedia.

There are around 770 different Oxalis species that grow around the world, and of these, 270 occur in Southern Africa.  It occurs mainly in the Western Cape in SA and has become a cosmopolitan weed in other parts of the world.

It likes disturbed soil and you will find them growing very happily in a grassy field or on the sides of the road with their little flower heads gazing up in the direction of the sun.

Oxalis per-caprae growing wild

The whole plant is edible and has a pleasant, sharp citrusy flavour.

Its sour taste is due to the soluble oxalic acid content, so don’t eat too much too often or this anti-nutrient can cause health problems. It is also a rich source of vitamin C.

The pretty flowers can be used in salads, in ice, as a garnish for drinks and baked goods and renders a beautiful vivid sunshine yellow hue when steeped in hot water or infused in gin. The emerald green heart-shaped leaves can be used as a garnish in salads and dips, an addition to wild greens pesto and its lemon-zing pairs perfectly with any fatty or oily dishes. The stalks and roots can be eaten raw or cooked in milk. The flower stalks are hollow and can be used as tiny sustainable straws!  

This plant starts growing with the first winter rains and the flowering season is from mid winter through to late spring.

 

[Ed: When we were making our mini-film series, featuring Roushanna and other pioneer foragers from three other continents, Oxalis fan-dom was something that seemed to unite the globe! Known as ‘wood sorrel’ in Canada, the distinctive leaf shape and tightly focused flavour made it a favourite garnish for Nick Liu. Vijay in Singapore described it as his ‘spirit plant’ that he could find all over the world wherever he travelled. We in Islay have wood sorrel in the woods, and sheep sorrel, and common sorrel, all delicious raw, and great native alternatives to citrus in cocktails and drinks garnishes. ]

 

Watch the latest Wild A State of Mind film here >

Soursuck Sling

recipe

Makes 1 drink

Soursuck Sling

  • One part Oxalis pes-caprae petal infused gin
  • One part Chamomile and vanilla infused gin
  • 1 tbs honey
  • Soda water to taste
  • Crushed flower ice
  • Oxalis flowers to garnish

Method:

  • Pour the infused gins and honey into a shaker with ice, sling it around while dreaming of the sun and strain over the crushed ice in a glass.
  • Top with soda water and garnish with flowers.
  • This drink is like the naughtiest lemon lozenge you have ever tasted – it is soothing and calming and and also makes the perfect hot toddy – just substitute the crushed ice and soda for hot water, and add a slice of fresh ginger.

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