We were lucky enough to find a wonderful patch of Wild Garlic whilst roaming the woods around Kinver at the weekend. You can usually smell wild garlic before you see it, it has such a pungent aroma, however the flavor surprisingly, whilst unmistakably garlic is much softer and more subtly than the more common garlic used in cooking. It is a beautiful plant, with a bright white starry head of flowers from April onward. The flowers herald the end of the garlic season, as soon after the leaves wither and brown. You can expect to find Wild Garlic in the same areas you would find Bluebells growing, at the edges of shady woodlands, banked verges and hedgerows.
You can also eat the bulbs but it is the leaves most commonly used in cooking, and the flowers are also edible. Medicinally, wild garlic is known to be an insecticide, an antioxidant and an immune system booster – much like common garlic. It has also traditionally been used to aide digestion. Ramsons, the common name for wild garlic, tends to leave a legacy on the places it has grown with the towns of Ramsgate, Ramsey and Ramsdell being named after them, this is because the presence of wild garlic is a key indicator of ancient woodlands, and the garlic plants that we pick today could well be the offpsring of ancestors over a thousand years old….
Some recipes for wild garlic…
Garlic Infused Oil
- Take a handful of garlic leave, wash and dry thoroughly.
- roll them into little cigar shapes and pop them into a bottle of good quality extra-virgin olive oil.
- Leave for a couple of weeks and then serve in little bowls with balsamic vinegar and crusty bread.
Wild Garlic and Potato Soup
- 25g Butter
- 2 handfuls of wild garlic
- 2 medium sized potatoes
- 800ml vegetable stock
- Fresh cream
- Garlic flowers, salt and pepper to garnish
Melt the butter in a pan, tear the garlic leaves in strips, throw them into the pan and cover with a lid. Peel and dice the potatoes. Add the potatoes and stock. Bring to the boil, simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then blend in a hand blender. Laddle into dishes and serve with cream and a sprinkling of garlic flowers.
Wild Garlic Pesto
- 200g wild Garlic Leaves
- 200g any other fresh herb such as watercress, sorrel etc
- Olive oil
- 200g finely grated hard cheese – such as Parmesan
- 200g coarsely ground pine nuts
- Dash of sea salt
Wash and dry the leaves throughly, then tear up and put in a blender. Cover with olive oil and whizz until smooth. Stir in the cheese and the pine nuts and add a sprinkle of salt. Stir through your favorite pasta and serve with fresh bread.
Happy foraging x