Friday, July 05, 2013

Making Frankfurter Green Sauce in the UK


Our green sauce herbs.  See note at end of post regarding the choices.

We got hooked on Frankfurter Green Sauce (recipe at link) when we were in Germany, and fretted a little bit about what would happen if we had to leave Germany.  You see, several of the seven herbs needed to make it are very rare in the US.  Although they can be found at any market in our area of Germany during the right time of year - and an approximation of them can be found year-round in the frozen section at supermarkets - people making the recipe in the US often end up having to make some pretty far-out substitutes.  Our fix was going to be to grow our own green sauce garden so we could have it every year out of our own garden - if we ended up living in a suitable climate.

Turns out we ended up in England!  Suitable climate managed.  Assuming (correctly) that supermarkets and greengrocers wouldn't carry the weirder half of the herbs, we set out immediately to set up a green sauce garden. We lucked out right away at the local awesome-logo-having Stirchley Market, finding sorrel from Martineau Gardens and chervil, borage, salad burnet, chives, and lovage from Urban Herbs.  We also wanted to find the cress we were familiar with from the German herb bundles, but never did: we thought it was a special variety and only later did we realize that it's the same thing as the cress they sell as tiny sprouts in a box at the supermarket....just grown up. Oops. Next year.

Having not had to raise the plants from seed we thought we were all set but there were a couple of challenges along the way.  The first was the damn gastropods in the garden.  There are a LOT of them, more than I've ever seen anywhere in my life...and it turns out they love chervil.  The chervil took off like a shot when we brought it home and planted it and was doing better than anything else, and smelled amazing.  Exactly at that point, it was completely devoured in two days by slugs and snails!  They didn't seem to care much for the burnet planted right next to it, but mmmm chervil.  Sadly we never found more chervil by the time we needed to harvest everything else for the sauce, so we went without this time.

The second challenge was harvesting the plants.  It didn't occur to me until that day that I wouldn't really know what parts of the plant were the best to use, having had someone else harvesting them in the past!  After some googling I found that in most cases, it's the youngest leaves that you want.  The borage might have gone too long. The thick stalks and big leaves develop tons of unpleasant little thorns! I did manage to get some good smaller leaves off of it.

Sieving egg yolks - oddly satisfying.
The only other difference in making green sauce this time as compared to past adventures is that this time we have a single-layer wire sieve to push the egg yolks through as written in the recipe.  Previously we just mashed them.  Sieving the yolks is really fun so if you have an appropriate sieve do it!

The finished product
The end product was totally delicious, just as in Germany.  When we get our own property one day we can make a whole garden of herbs instead of just having a few plants in pots!  That should be awesome. (If we can figure out non-disturbing ways of getting rid of the gastropods. We tried some slug pellets this week and the carnage was horrible, especially since it was mostly snails and you know how I love them....)

It's a bit late in the year now but if you can get some of the goodies, make the sauce!  And that leads me to my side note about this recipe.

Man, you won't see people on the internet being dicks about any other recipe the way you will see it about this recipe.  Try not to be intimidated by people saying it cannot be made with any herb other than the Memorialized Seven: chervil, chives, cress, parsley, borage, burnet, and sorrel.  If they are referencing the officialness of these and EU protection of the dish - to meet that standard you would also have to only make it using herbs grown within a certain radius of Frankfurt, and you probably can't pull that off anyway. You can make substitutions and it will be fine.
This handy chart is the result of evaluating online recipes for green sauce and the herbs they suggest using, with the x-axis being the number of recipes suggesting the given herb.  I guess the best is to substitute from higher off the list than lower - but mostly just use what you find delicious and can get your hands on.


  1. This is a check to make sure the comments are working. The green sauce was delicious.

  2. This is why living in Bavaria is sometimes not the greatest*. I've heard you guys talk about Grüne Soße before, but I've never had it, or even seen it, around here. It looks delicious.

    *Usually, it's TOTALLY the greatest, though.

    1. It's no lie, among expats in Germany the ones in Bavaria always seemed the happiest. (Hamburg second, I think.)


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