Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sorrel… an old herb being found again

Michele K Koskinen

Everyear my Herb Garden becomes an experiment in taste. An avid and experimental cook I scavage through cookbooks, look online, and watch a few cooking shows on TV to find new recipes to try with new ingredients. This has made my world of herbs expand from the usual Italian Basil, Parsley, Italian Oregano, and Thyme to experiment with out of the box unknown everyday herbs. Today my container deck garden contains 4 types of Basil, 2 types of Parsley, 3 types of Oregano, 2 kinds of Thyme, 3 different Mints, 2 Sages, 2 Rosemary, and a few more in my regular garden. This year I have found three new herbs to try: Sorrel and Summer and Winter Savory.They have been planted in my small garden as well as containers and are doing well in both. If you have the ground space I would recommend planting it into the garden as it gets fairly large. My garden is intwined with flowers as well as perennial herbs. The annuals have their own little bed or are in containers.

Sorrel is a perennial herb in zone 3 to 7 that is ornamental as well as edible. The red veined sorrel with striking green and maroon pointed leaves gives planters a texture and color that puts a little interest into the design.It is also a flowering herb with a spike of a flowere

Spring is the best season for tender and less pronounced taste for sorrel.There are several types of Sorrel each with different characteristics, the French Sorrel is milder, the broad leaf Sorrel and the ed veined Sorrel similar in taste. I am growing the red veined Sorrel which is quite tart and bitter. I have, however used some of the smaller older leaves this summer in a fish sauce and it gave just the right amount of lemon bitterness to the oiley fish. Sorrel is high in Vitamin C and C but can be toxic if cooked in the wrong material. Stainless steel is the material of choice for cooking Sorrel as it is high in oxalic acid. As always with trying new foods/herbs do your basic research to make sure of the proper cooking preparations. 

The spring leaves can be used with tender lettuce in a salad or a sauce for fish. Discovering the uses for sorrel are a continuing adventure. I have found recipes in older cookbooks, if anyone collects them, and online. If you are interested in this herb/ vegetable there are many resources online. I have listed a few below for your beginning search. The French Sorrel will be my herb of choice next year as I have found several recipes for this milder cultivar.   Enjoy and salmon soup

Nextime--- Summer and Winter Savory another old herb gaining favor.

Article in Edible Manhatten

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Basil Downy Mildew

Michele K Koskinen

Has your basil crop had serious growing issues? Yellow leaves, brown specks, curling and dry. At first I thought it was lack of water, then too much water, then my short away time with hot hot weather. But no, I started trying to find an answer and just received my weekly email from a blogger I follow. Subject, Downy Mildew on Basil. My basil is grown in containers on my deck and I have not seen this before this year. Apparently it was spotted in 2009 and has been tracked since then.

Scientist are trying to get answers on how wide spread the problem is and possible solutions for the commercial as well as residential grower. The two links below will give you information with photos and a chance to enter information on your own Basil downy mildew problem for Cornell University to study. Within the links you will find additional links to get more information.

Cornell info on downy mildew with great photos