Friday, 4 May 2012

Wild Garlic and How to Get It

I don't get out much. I am not a hermit though and I do enjoy going out, providing the circumstances are right. A day of fresh air and countryside is preferable to traipsing around the shops as I would rather dodge insects and tree branches than hapless retail enthusiasts.

I've been very busy lately running a business which has kept me indoors probably too much, but as it revolves around food, I've not been unhappy, but I would have liked to have gone out and foraged for some wild garlic.
As part of my work entails much use of social media I was lucky enough to encounter a generous person on Twitter who offered to post me some wild garlic after seeing my tweet asking if anyone knew of good foraging sites in North Herts.

A packet arrived promptly and intact from Bere Marsh Farm. I was initially concerned that the fresh-picked leaves might not make the journey from Dorset, but Royal Mail had been careful not to squash them.
Fiona Gerardin sells packs of her organic wild garlic on eBay, which is a good thing to know, if you want to try it, but can't get to somewhere to collect it yourself.

From my quick research I know that wild garlic (latin name: allium ursinum) also known as ramsoms, grows in moist woodland areas and flowers in the spring before most trees have regained their leaves.
Many experienced foragers will tell you that you can follow your nose to a patch. The strong garlic scent is a dead giveaway and fortunately for this reason, makes for reliable identification. Be careful though, not to confuse it with lily of the valley which is highly toxic. Take a leaf, crush it, smell it. Smells of garlic? Than you have the right one. No smell, then best leave it.

I should point out that if you do decide to collect food plants from the wild, you should get permission from the landowner and only carefully pick what you need and never uproot plants. Nature and the environment need respect, also you would want to return the following year to the same flourishing patch, wouldn't you?

Much like bulb garlic, wild garlic can be used the same way in cooking. I made a pesto with it which had a strong garlic flavour and the added fresh green flavour from the juicy leaves. The risotto, I made was good too. The leaves I added towards the end of cooking to preserve their colour. They were jolly good in Chinese stir-fries as well.

What seemed to be a small packet contained more than it first appeared and I discovered that wild garlic leaves store well in the salad drawer of the fridge.

Maybe next year I'll be able to get out into the woods and go wild garlic hunting for myself or failing that, I'll just have to grow it in the garden.
Related Posts with Thumbnails