How to Grow Sorrel – A Guide to Growing Sorrel
Sorrel has never been a very popular culinary herb in Britain. Possibly there’s a clue in the name which is derived from the French for sour. However, it’s recently developed a bit of a reputation as a gourmet ingredient. The flavour is very acidic, almost lemon. It’s a versatile herb used in salads, soups and sauces.
Sorrel is an easy to grow perennial, productive but not demanding of the gardener’s attention apart from regular picking. Sorrel is suitable for cultivating in a pot or in the border
Sow thinly between early March and early June, direct into finely raked soil and cover with just 6mm of soil or soil & sand mixed. Germination should take between 7 and 14 days. Thin down to 30cm between plants. For early sowings, cloche or fleece the soil to warm it up.
The soil should be well cultivated and fairly rich although not freshly manured. Sorrel actually does best in a semi-shaded position. Unlike many herbs that like it dry, sorrel will require watering in hot and dry weather or the leafy plants will wilt and die.
Pick regularly to encourage development of more young and tasty leaves, Any flowers that develop should have the heads removed to encourage more leaf development.
- Sorrel is a hardy perennial and, once established, will be available for picking March–October.
- The young leaves are less sour / bitter tasting than the larger, older leaves.
Pests and Problems with Sorrel
Sorrel is generally problem-free so long as kept watered in dry weather. Feed with a high nitrogen fertiliser like chicken-manure pellets twice a year.
Varieties of Sorrel
There are several varieties available, including French or Garden Sorrel and the Buckler leaf sorrel, which gourmets most prize.
Eating & Storing Sorrel
First a small word of warning. Be aware that sorrel contains large amounts of oxalic acid and should be used in moderation or it can cause digestive upset.
The taste of French or Garden sorrel is often compared to spinach and chard. Use the larger leaves in the same way, discarding the stalks. Like spinach, cooking reduces the volume of sorrel tremendously.
Buckler leaf sorrel is milder and good added direct to salads.
Sorrel soup is good, and the herb works well with eggs, oily fish, potato soups or with fatty meats such as pork. Try it too with cucumber, in a chilled cucumber soup.
Further Information on Sorrel
Sorrel from the Allotment Shop