Every year do you try growing herbs such as basil and rosemary in your garden? Only to realise a couple of months in that you do not have green fingers and that there’s a reason supermarkets sell them ready to pick. I clutch onto my basil plant frowning in my windowsill, hoping that with a little bit of water and sunlight it will provide me with mighty leaves that can be used over all of my Italian dishes. Unfortunately, I’m lucky if I get a leaf.
Thankfully, there are some herbs that are a little more robust, but for some reason they are not as well known. That’s where the sorrel steps in. Ever heard of it? Even if you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably seen one without realising. They’re leafy greens that grow from early Spring to late Autumn, meaning that you can really reap a lot out of them. Turns out they’re pretty easy to grow too as they thrive in various circumstances. This makes them a great little grower if you’re not so consistent like me.
Sorrel is a perennial herb, this means that the plant lasts more than two years, unlike many that only just make it through a season. Really I don’t think I need to say much more, you should already be convinced just by the sheer ease of growing the plant. But in case you need a little push, sorrel also has a magnificent lemon zing to it. What does this mean for you? Well, it means you can add a whole new level to your salad, or upgrade your next fish dish. You didn’t realise how much you need sorrel in your life until just now.
Types of Sorrel
Now let’s break things down and go into more detail. There are two main categories of sorrel, British and French…
British sorrel – Also known as garden sorrel, this is the most common type that you would usually find growing in your garden. They often begin to grow early in spring and have long, arrow-shaped leaves. If you’ve ever had sorrel soup, it probably came from this type.
French sorrel – There isn’t much difference in the two, except French sorrel has lance-shaped leaves. Like British sorrel, it has a lemon zing to it and is highly acidic. So, it’s usually best to serve in small doses.
One of the most common ways of using sorrel, especially in England is by making sorrel soup. It is also a well-known French dish, but I don’t want to start any rivalry there. It’s a very basic recipe and packs quite a punch. Make sure when hunting for a recipe there are ingredients that balance out the flavour of the sorrel. As I mentioned earlier, sorrel has a unique, zingy flavour, therefore ingredients such as cream, milk and eggs tend to balance this out well.
Another great way to utilise the indestructible plant is by mixing it with a salmon dish. Sorrel sauce is a popular accompaniment with Salmon and other fish dishes. Often, it is combined with double cream or creme fresh and spinach. It’s the lemon flavour that makes it a perfect addition to any fish dish.
Last but not least, why not try adding sorrel to your next salad dish. We are edging closer and closer to spring which means it’s time to start adding a side salad to your plate. Sorrel can be a great addition to your salad because it adds zest where the rest of the leaves don’t. Just be wary of how much you use in case it gives you too much of a kick.
Meet Sorrel’s Close Neighbor: Stinging Nettles. Try them in a soup.