In the herb corner: This year I am writing about some of our herbs. As the varieties at the end of the alphabet can sometimes get overlooked so I started there and am working backwards! This month I have reached...
It should be no surprise that this is an ancient herb that has been written about since Roman times but in use for eons before that. The Tudors considered it to be one of the best English vegetables although most people have rarely, if ever, come across it in culinary use these days.
It is a perennial and an established plant can give you leaves from mid February in a mild winter. Young plants are more vigorous and so a fresh patch each year can be useful as older plants want to flower and can be a bit slow to then throw up fresh growth! We have never worried about this because we like a changing range of leaves to munch on and are happy to wait for sorrel to ‘do its thing’.
Use young leaves in salads (reduce the lemon or vinegar you might use as a dressing), particularly the red veined variety for the colour and flavour. Make a homemade dip by adding shredded leaves to mayonnaise or fromage frais. Chop up leaves to put with chicken portions while you cook to impart some of the zesty flavour. They also go well with pork chops (and sausages that are pre cooked for a picnic!). Add to soups and toss a little bit into a mixed omelette. You can choose to cook leaves as you would spinach but the water does need to be changed during cooking to reduce the acidity. Sorrel contains oxalic acid and so should not be consumed in large quantities.
French Sorrel has the strongest flavour, it is good for making sauces. Broadleaf sorrel is lovely for salad use with a milder but zesty taste. Red Veined Sorrel falls in between the other two but has the added interest of the leaf colour.