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Summer Foraging: Sheep Sorrel

This summer is showing off as a great one for foraging. Already the flowering of blackberries, damsons and elders have been impressive and promise a good harvest in a month or two, But the perfect meadow growing conditions have also produced an excellent crop of Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella). If you haven’t enjoyed this field delicacy before, it’s fun to forage and a rewarding harvest.

Sheep sorrel is one of several wild sorrels you can find around the UK. They produce fresh leaves in the spring and in June/July send up a 30-45 cms high narrow flowering spike with tiny rust-coloured flowers above the grass meadow they inhabit. This serves as the perfect ID flag so the target harvest of tangy leaves at the bottom of the flowering spike can be located from 30-40 metres away in long grass.

Sorrel

Wander up to the spike, part the grass and at the base will be a rosette of small (5-10cms) long, arrow-head shaped, dark green blades of bliss.

Sorrel

You can’t easily confuse a sorrel leaf with anything else. Even a small docks that grow in the same environments are easy to distinguish. Sorrel leaf is smooth, dark-green, arrow-shaped, with tiny wings at the stalk-end, just like an arrow-head, but docks are crinkly surfaced and paler-green, without the wings at the end. But the final test is to nibble the leaf. Docks taste of not much (they are edible too, but boring), but your sorrel has that wonderful, sharp, acidic tang. Pick what you need and leave the rest for your next visit…….

Sorrel

The ‘crinkly’ leaves on the left are dock leaves, the smooth, flatter leaves beside the flowering spike on the right are sheep sorrel. 

Looking for something to do with your freshly foraged sorrel? Try our Broad Bean and Sorrel Frittata below, or one of these delicious recipes: 

Broad bean & Sorrel Frittata 

Serves: 2 | Dietary: WF

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced small
  • 175g broad beans, podded weight
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 50g ricotta
  • 25g Parmesan style cheese, grated
  • 1 large handful of young sorrel leaves, chopped roughly
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. In a 24cm frying pan, one without a plastic handle, heat the olive oil and gently sauté the potato, with a lid on until cooked, which takes about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the broad beans & sauté for a further 5 minutes.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with 2/3rds of the ricotta and parmesan, add the sorrel and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the egg mix to the potatoes & broad beans and cook on a gentle heat, until almost set. You will need to run a heatproof spatula around the frittata to stop it from sticking.
  5. Pre-heat the grill.
  6. Scatter the remaining ricotta and parmesan over the top of the frittata and grill until the top is golden.

Broad Bean Frittata

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