If you’ve been to the woods recently and noticed a rather pungent smell, you’ve probably stumbled across wild garlic, otherwise known as Ramsons, which carpet our woodlands at this time of year.
We asked expert forager Chris Westgate of Heavenly Hedgerows for her advice on how to pick and eat this most delicious wild plant:
- The whole plant is edible but the young leaves have the best flavour and their late arrival this year means they should be just about perfect now. They’re best eaten raw in a salad or used as the base for a pesto (see right). Cooking will help reduce the pungency if you find the flavour too strong.
- Try drying the leaves and adding them to sea salt. They keep for ages and taste wonderful on roast lamb or potatoes.
- Use the star-like, white flowers to prettify a spring salad.
- Once flowering, the seeds are also good to use. They pack quite a punch in salad or on top of a soup. They’re great pickled, too. Just pop in a clean jar and cover with vinegar for use during the winter months (they contain Vitamin C).
- The plant is most easy to identify by its smell but it can be confused in looks with the poisonous Lily of the Valley, Lords and Ladies and Dog’s Mercury, which also likes to grow alongside wild garlic, so pick it with caution. Always wash the plants carefully at home before eating, making sure the leaves definitely smell of garlic.
- Abundant as it may be in parts, it’s good practice, as with all wild plants and fruit, to only take what you will use, leaving lots for wildlife and other people. And remember that it’s illegal to uproot a wild plant without the landowner’s permission.
Wild garlic pesto
60g wild garlic
60g rapeseed oil
22g parmesan cheese
35g pine nuts
15ml rice or white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1. Wash the wild garlic, ensuring there are no other leaves in the mix.
2. Finely chop and add to a blender with the pine nuts. Blend to a smooth-ish consistency.
3. Add cheese, salt, vinegar and oil.
4. Stir with knife or spatula. Put in small jars until ready to use. Use within two weeks.
Sniff out wild garlic in a woodland near you, forage away and, if you’ve got a garlic glut, try one of these three recipes as well.
Wild garlic hummus
A vibrant green dip/spread with a wonderfully, earthy garlicky element, its Middle Eastern heritage remains.
Wild garlic and goat’s cheese pie
Based on the Greek dish, spanokopita, this pie is made with a mixture of wild greens.
Wild garlic gnocchi with tomato ragout
You'll need a translation for this lovely recipe from Fraulein Glucklich blog, but we think it's worth it.