Seasonal Produce: How to Forage and Cook with Wild Garlic

April 17, 2018

Hello everyone! Apologies for dropping off the edge of the planet with this blog, it's been a while hasn't it? Second year of uni got on top of me a bit so I haven't had much time to come up with new recipes and posts. Hopefully now that all my lectures are done for the year I'll start posting a bit more regularly again over the summer, so keep an eye out! 

Today I'd like to introduce you to foraging and eating in season locally, because it can be great fun and free! If you're a newbie to foraging nature's harvest, wild garlic is one of the easiest places to start as it is really versatile and simple to identify. I've been trying to reduce the air miles of my food and packaging recently, so what could be better than picking your own food at your doorstep? 

Wild garlic is found in many British woodlands in spring so this post will help you out with some cooking ideas and how to identify the yummy plant...

Finding & Identifying

Wild garlic is abundant on the woodland floor during the spring and can be identified by clusters of the smooth, glossy leaves and white flower clusters that are on stems. The leaves look similar to Lily of the Valley which is poisonous, however Lily of the Valley has bell shaped flowers, and wild garlic has star shaped flowers. To make sure the plant you've found is wild garlic, pick a leaf and slightly crush it- it should have a mellow garlic smell (if the woodland doesn't smell like it already, that is!). If in doubt please don't pick and consult an expert.

I'd recommend picking the younger leaves (often before the flowers bloom) as they have a more mellow taste for salads, but larger leaves are still fine to cook with! The flowers are also edible and look beautiful in spring salads.
I wash the leaves and keep them in the fridge in an airtight container, or with the stems in a glass of water, for a day or two if necessary.
You can also wash then freeze wild garlic to cook with it out of season.

Please remember only to pick the amount you need! 

  • Find areas where there is plenty of wild garlic growing and only take small amounts for personal use, making sure to leave plenty for other foragers and for the ecosystem and wildlife as a food source.
  • Some areas you may need permission to pick from so make sure to ask before you pick! 
  • Make sure you stay in public areas and don't trespass, as well as keeping to footpaths to avoid trampling plants.
  • Most importantly, be mindful of the woodland and be careful not to cause damage to the habitat and wildlife that live in it! If in doubt, don't pick <3

Let's Cook!

Now you've got a bunch of wild garlic, what do you do with it?
Wild garlic can be eaten raw or cooked and all parts of the plant are edible.

Salads: The leaves and flowers bring a beautiful aroma to salads, so throw in a generous handful!
Pesto: Blend up the leaves with pine nuts/walnuts, olive oil and some parmesan to make fresh pesto.
Soup: Fry off a sliced onion in butter until soft, add a chopped potato, herbs of your choice, and 500ml vegetable stock and cook until the potato is soft (10 minutes). Throw in a big handful of wild garlic for a minute or two, remove from the heat then blend. Serve with homemade bread!
Breakfast: I love adding a couple of chopped leaves into scrambled egg or an omelette for an extra bit of flavour and colour!
Everything else: Anything else you'd like a bit more flavour to, or would normally add regular garlic, try adding some wild garlic! Keep the cooking time as short as possible to retain flavour. Why not add some chopped leaves into pastas, scatter on top of locally caught fish, or even just making your cheese on toast a bit more fancy? The list goes on!
See what you come up with :)

I'd love to know if you've tried wild garlic before and what you like to use it for! Drop me a message in the comments :)

Have a beautiful day,

Emma xo

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