Sunday, 2 June 2013

Wild Garlic

I think it's in my blood.  Foraging that is.  I often hear tales of my maternal family's farm in rural Poland and the foraging fests that my Mum and her brothers used to go on - picking all sorts of things from berries to mushrooms.  So yes, I think there's always been a foraging spirit within me.

New to my foraging radar is wild garlic.  Although I've always known its there, I've never really thought about it too much, always sticking to foraging fruit.  But wild garlic has been praised to high heaven by my foodie friend Lucy and so this year I made it my mission to seek it out whilst on my countryside weekend rambles.

Wild Garlic with White Flowers

Armed with a fabulous book I purchased last year - 'The Hedgerow Handbook' by Adele Nozedar it proved to be a really useful reference guide making sure I picked the right foliage and not a pile of weeds!  The book has detailed descriptions as well as close up drawings to help you forage.  Then, post-picking, there are recipes outlining how you can turn your findings into tasty dishes.

First things first, when it comes to foraging, make sure you do it on public land and not on private property!

With regard to wild garlic, it's mainly found in shaded wooded areas, similarly to where bluebells grow.  If the pungent smell doesn't hit you first, you can spot wild garlic by their wide dark green leaves and white flowers.

Close up of Wild Garlic (NB: it can grow near other plants - bluebells and nettles)

You can pick the leaves out of the ground, along with the flowers, but don't worry about getting the bulbs out.  It is the leaves that are used in the main although the flowers are also edible.  However, the appearance of the flowers indicate the latter stages of the wild garlic season (usually April onwards) so make sure you don't leave it too late to pick.

Close up of Wild Garlic Flowers

Wild Garlic once picked

Interestingly, wild garlic has similar properties to that of standard garlic bulbs in terms of being immune boosting and an aide for digestion.  It's also nick-named 'Bear's Garlic', as historically wood dwelling wild bears used to eat it to get their internal systems working again post-winter hibernation!

In addition to being called 'Bear's Garlic', it's also known as Ramsons.  Many UK towns (eg: Ramsgate in Kent) have used the 'Ram' element of their name to denote the ancient woods in that area that would have had ramsons/wild garlic growing there.

As per Adele Nozedar's book, there are many wild garlic recipes that you can make.  The one that I embarked upon was wild garlic pesto.  Using Adele's recipe as a guide, here is what I made (using very rough measurements):

Wild Garlic Pesto

Wild Garlic Pesto

Serves 2 (to use as a pesto sauce for pasta)

  • Large bunch of wild garlic leaves/flowers
  • Handful of rocket leaves (or watercress)
  • 1" thick wedge of cheese - cut into small pieces (veggie parmesan or veggie Cheddar)
  • Handful of walnuts (or other nuts)
  • Splash of vegetable oil
  • Salt & Pepper

  • Wash and dry the wild garlic thoroughly.
  • Place the wild garlic, rocket leaves, nuts and cheese into a food processor/blender.
  • Drizzle the vegetable oil on top and add a good grinding of salt and pepper.
  • Blend/whizz the ingredients together until a smooth paste is achieved.
  • Taste to ensure the right amount of seasoning has been used.  Re-season if necessary and re-blend/whizz.
  • Serve with pasta or use as a pesto with other foods.

Wild garlic is a fabulous means of utilising nature's larder and can be used in so many ways, enhancing so many dishes, it's worth donning your walking boots and having a good old forage in the woods.  

However, a word to the wise, as delicious as it is, make sure you don't use it for that all important first date, as the kiss goodnight might be a bit stronger than anticipated!


  1. Oh this would be so yumm and flavorful! I would love to get my hands on wild garlic!

  2. Hope you get the opportunity to go foraging soon Charul!

    Anna x