Mussels in cider with apples and sorrel

Mussels in cider with apples and sorrel

Real Food by Mike
Alan Benson

For me, this recipe brings back fond memories of my trip to Normandy in France, where the cider is second to none. If you don’t have cider, use white wine rather than beer, which would be too strong. The granny smith apples work well due to their tart flavour as well as their firm texture, which doesn’t go too soft when cooked. The sorrel adds a lovely sharp flavour to the sauce. However, if you can’t find it, you can use baby English spinach leaves instead and add another shot of lemon juice to increase the acidity.


Quantity Ingredient
40ml extra-virgin olive oil
80g french shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 large fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 granny smith apple, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dill, chopped
400ml dry cider
2kg mussels
300g butter
1 bunch sorrel, leaves picked
1 lemon, juiced
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
crusty bread, to serve


  1. Warm the olive oil in a 5 litre (20 cup) saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, fennel, apple and dill and sauté for 2 minutes until tender. Increase the heat to medium–high and add the cider. When the cider is boiling, add the mussels and put the lid on the pan. Keep the pan covered and cook for about 1 minute, shaking the pan occasionally. Remove the lid and check to see if the mussels have opened. If not, put the lid back on for a moment longer until they are ready.
  2. Transfer the mussels to a bowl with a slotted spoon. If there are any mussels that have not opened, I suggest discarding them.
  3. Reduce the stock in the pan by half. Add the butter and sorrel and cook until the sorrel is just wilted. Adjust the flavour with a squeeze of lemon juice and a good grinding of black pepper. (If the mussels are very fresh they’ll be holding a lot of seawater so you won’t have to add salt.)
  4. Return the mussels to the pan and toss them through the sauce. Scatter with parsley and serve with lots of crusty bread.


  • If you want the dish to be a little richer, fold in some crème fraîche while the pan is off the heat before returning the mussels to the pan.

Medicinal Benefit

  • Eating mussels is good for blood and bones. Mussels are high in vitamin B12, which aids in lowering homocysteine levels in the blood. If these get too high they can contribute to heart disease and stroke. Mussels also contain high levels of iron (which helps boost the haemoglobin in red blood cells), manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and of zinc, which frees vitamin A stored in the liver.
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