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Veldkos finds - Surings

Blog by Deni Archer, with content on the plant supplied by Loubie Rusch of Making KOS. Photos by Loubie Rusch.

Surings, Wood Sorrel

Veldkos-finds---Surings

Oxalis pes-caprae (Oxalidaceae)

This neon-yellow weed with clover-like leaves - known as the Suring in South Africa, and Wood Sorrel in other English speaking parts of the world - reminds me of being a kid. I could never resist plucking a skinny stem from along the path as I dawdled to school, or when spying the tiny glow-in-the-dark flower hanging through a fence while tearing up my hood on my bike with friends. Nibbling the end for an injection of tart flavour was a sure way to alleviate boredom, or just add a moment of sensory stimulation. There were some unsavoury rumours about why they tasted as they did - something about dogs lifting their legs to relieve themselves (I think my older sister weaved this one, it sounds like her handiwork) - but that never stopped me. I loved their zingy sourness probably the same way I now like wasabi highs. It kicked a face-puckering, jaw-clenching punch like not much else did those days. I’m still pretty keen on them, so it’s very exciting to learn more from Loubie about how to add it to my diet with a little more gourmet flair!

In the garden: This is a winter rainfall annual, often considered a weed. It is often found in wild, coastal or woodland gardens. It tolerates full sun and part shade.

As a food: The leaves, stems, flowers and bulbs of this plant are all edible. The tart flavour makes it an excellent addition to stews or soups to enhance flavour. It’s useful in pesto, sauces, butters, and dressings in place of lemon. But take note: as it is high in oxalic acid, take care not to eat too much.

For your health: The entire plant is high in vitamins and minerals, and has medicinal value in treating burns, rashes and even acne. It has diuretic, antiscorbutic (which means it treats scurvy so it’s high in vitamin C) and cooling properties (making it good for treating fevers). The diuretic property assists with urinary disorders. As above, the oxalic acids are not healthy for people kidney disorders or rheumatic disorders. The oxalic salts amay also affect those who suffer from gout.


Where to find it: Surings are not currently commercially grown. They can be foraged during the winter rainfall months as it is widespread coastally as well as inland. It is under-utilised as an ornamental or herb garden plant. But you can find these growing along grassy fences (like school fences and in parks and gardens) in urban areas.

Cooking ideas:

  • Add to tzatziki (try a veldkos tzatziki with surings, wild garlic and spekboom added to the cucumber and yoghurt).

  • Add it to soups, for example, waterblommetjie, leek, potato and suring soup.

  • Add it to salads - flowers and leaves.

  • Make an indigenous herb butter using suring, wild garlic and sea parsley to accompany any seafood.


Important notes on responsible foraging!
  1. Be absolutely sure that you have identified the right plant before picking or eating it. Refer to books as well plant identification sites on the web, but be weary of using Facebook groups - where non-experts often comment - to definitively ID edibles. This is not advised. Triple check if necessary - if in doubt, don't.
  2. Always taste new foods with caution and in small amounts at first, bearing in mind that individuals manifest food intolerance differently.
  3. As there are currently no permits required for foraging plant material, please do take care to harvest indigenous plants sustainably - always leave enough behind for the plant to be able to continue to grow or reproduce abundantly, be careful to not over-harvest seeds, leave roots in place, and take care not to trample plants whilst foraging.
  4. Exotic weeds may be picked in great quantity, knowing that you are performing a service to the environment.
  5. Get permission if you are harvesting on private land, whether foraging exotics or indigenous plants.
  6. Never remove or eat plants from a nature reserve.
  7. Always wash your haul very thoroughly, and make sure you are picking from an unpolluted site.
  8. Bear in mind that some edible plants can be toxic if eaten in large quantity, or if not prepared correctly.
  9. Always be informed about what you are doing and be prepared to take responsibility for your actions, both during harvesting and eating.
For more, follow Loubie on her Facebook page, Making KOS
Veldkos-finds---Surings

Mussels with wild herb butter including surings

Veldkos-finds---Surings

Tzatziki with a veldkos flair - surings, wild garlic, spekboom

Veldkos-finds---Surings

Surings, with their zesty flavour, can lift many meals. It acts as a flavour enhancer much like lemons and tamarind, by lifting the acidity.

Veldkos-finds---Surings

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