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I first came across sorrel in a neglected herb garden behind the kitchen I had just taken charge of and have been a fan ever since. Similar in appearance to spinach it has a mild, citrus-sour taste, which is perfect in summer salads, soups and fish dishes.

Young Sorrel

How to Grow

Sorrel is a hardy perennial growing up to 2ft high, a relative of wild dock; it grows rapidly in rich moist soil with plenty of sun. Seeds can be sown outdoors in late spring although I prefer to sow the seeds in deep seed trays to allow for their long roots. It is important to remember that sorrel develops strong roots, which bury deep into the soil and can prove very difficult to remove once established. If left unchecked the plant will quickly seed itself often producing plants the same year the seeds fell so remember to remove the flowering heads and stems as soon as they appear. If the weather is too hot and dry the leaves will turn bitter although this is soon remedied once the cooler weather arrives. Cut the leaves regularly to maximize the taste of the young leaves and to encourage further quality growth.

How to Cook

The worst thing about sorrel is the way the leaves quickly lose their colour upon cooking; the green leaves make way for an unattractive off brown, which has little use in a finished dish. If I am using sorrel in a hot fish sauce for example then I chop add it at the very last moment to avoid discolouring as much as possible. It works very well in sauces for salmon and other oily fish and I find its piquancy a welcome note in a soup of wild leeks and potatoes.

Wood Sorrel

Content and picture Miles Collins