I love the way a few arrow-shaped lemony leaves of sorrel brighten a bowl of mundane salad. On its own, though, sorrel can be too acidic. Less is more is the rule to observe, because like rhubarb, to which it is related, it is high in oxalic acid. Younger sorrel leaves are better if serving raw because just like with spinach, they contain a lot less oxalic acid. For salads, use small tender leaves just as they are. If dealing with bigger leaves, strip the leaves off the stems, discard stems, chop leaves and sauté lightly in a little butter, or make a simple sauce with butter, cream and pureed sorrel. Both these are delicious with fish, especially rich fish like salmon, but be warned, as soon as sorrel is heated, it loses its bright green colour and turns a dull flat browny green. Lemon juice also turns sorrel brown. Oh well, just ignore that. Not everything in nature is perfect and the taste does make it worthwhile. Sorrel sauce is also delicious with veal and pork cutlets, roast chicken, and lightly cooked egg dishes. Hot-smoked Salmon with Sorrel, Poached Eggs & Crispy Pancetta
Sorrel adds a lemony freshness to spinach soup and to one made with freshly dug spring carrots. It’s great added to a potato and leek mash, or a simple crush of cooked carrots and parsnips. And you can add sorrel to risotto, to quiches and tarts. Sorrel is dead easy to grow, at least I find it so. It bushes up in summer and the leaves get a bit tough but a good cut back sees it come right. Before you know it, dozens of baby sorrel leaves are popping up. I’m not sure how long a sorrel plant should live, but I’ve had one that’s been chugging on for 7-8 years. I can’t say I lavish much attention its way – I forget to water it and let it go to seed, but then chop it back and away it goes again. Nice! Sorrel leaves will keep for 4-5 days in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator so make a good addition to a bag of just-picked salad leaves from your garden to give to friends who pop in.