Wild Garlic

It’s been a long and hard winter and so much of the food we have wanted to eat has been, of necessity, warming and comforting. Delicious though that is, there comes a time when you want fresh food. Eventually, though, things start to sprout and poke through the earth and fresh vegetables of all kinds start to make their appearance.

You know Spring has arrived when the wild garlic is out. You can smell it, for a start, if you are walking in the woods. You might know it as ransoms and its botanical name is Allium ursinum.

Back home, in the North, there are swathes of it running round the edges of my mother’s garden, underneath the trees. Gardeners who care about formality would probably be horrified and, like the Royal Horticultural Society, class it as a weed.

But I come from a family that believes in food rather than manicured flowerbeds, so Ma lets it romp away and we reap the benefits.

Best of all, I have a brother who thinks about what his sister might like, now she is living in an apartment, high above the city.

One Sunday last year he had the inspired idea of digging up a clump of wild garlic and putting it in an old bucket so that I could drive back to the city and pot it up to keep on the balcony. It was marvellous. I could wander outside, cut off a handful of wonderfully fresh leaves and cook away.

Wild garlic is a perennial and after eating our fill of it last year, it died down and just last week I realised that what had been a bare pot was now bursting the bright and shiny leaves. The wild garlic was ready for the first harvest. 

It was Sunday and we were having a friend round for supper. I was cooking lamb and the thought of eating sweet roast lamb with a lovely side dish of wild garlic suddenly seemed to be the best idea I had had in a while.

All I had to do was snip off a pan full of leaves

I cut relatively carefully, taking the leaves because I wanted to leave some  buds so they can flower later

I will use them in something else.. maybe a risotto? I shall see what takes my fancy when they are ready.

Anyway, back in the kitchen, I heated a knob of butter in a large pan and looked over my leaves.

They were young and tender so they would only need the slightest bit of cooking… a quick rinse and into the pan they went.

Oh the smell……and a sprinkle of Maldon salt  was all that was needed after that.

They were served quickly with roast lamb… beautifully tender and with a gentle garlic flavour and an underlying almost-sweetness to them.

How about that,  wild food foraged from my balcony?

I have plans though…I am going to go out in the dead of night and plant some in the hedgerows. I shall turn this part of the city into a wild garlic foraging zone!

7 thoughts on “Wild Garlic”

  1. Wow Wendy what a clever idea! We have loads of wild garlic in the woods close to the farm, but I’ve never quite dared to cut it and cook with it, in case I poisoned everyone. Maybe I should have a go this year?

  2. Yes, you should! Think spinach… but garlicky spinach! Perfect with lamb. Makes fantastic soup.. risotto…You can’t go wrong. You’ll know it’s wild garlic because it smells of garlic. Go get it now while it is sweetly tender! You will be so pleased you did.

  3. I dont think I’ve ever tried wild garlic before, you’d think it would be more widely used! Please invade Glasgow with the wild garlic once you’ve done your hedgerows 😀

  4. Wild garlic grows rife around north yorkshire – the best use I’ve found is to use it to flavour pork sausages. OK, so I’m from Lincolnshire and live for VERY sagey pork sausages – missing them was a the reason I started sausage making… but wild garlic sausages are a close second.

    If you don’t fancy mincing your own meat and stuffing sausage skins … just buy minced pork from your butcher or supermarket, add a few breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and handfuls of chopped wild garlic – shape into patties or meatballs and fry. I promise this won’t be a one time reciped. You’ll be making a few extras to stash in the freezer for a mid winter treat.

  5. Wow, yellerbelli! How clever you are…I must try that. When I left my favourite job when I was a temp, I got a meat mincer as a present (they know I love to cook!) and I have been meaning to try making sausages.

  6. Granted this thread is a wee bit old, but a couple of points to make:

    a) The leaves of bear’s garlic look highly similar to the toxic lily of the valley; but, as said, has a distinctive smell.

    b) It is illegal to uproot such wild flowers from their wild setting, although cutting leaves is okay.

    I’m working in a garden with has a bed of them, and they’re past their best. Boy do they stink! And not in a nice way… I thought there was a blocked drain.

  7. Hahaa! Yes, the smell of ageing wild garlic….I suppose the way past that is to cut it all down and eat it young! Luckily my mother’s garden escapes being classified as wild so I can dig it up with impunity…and for anyone looking to dig up some for a pot just ask people whose gardens are near woodland. It will find its way into them despite all their precautions. Good point, Alex, on similar looks to lily of the valley – anyone with no sense of smell must be very careful…

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