Forage your own wild garlic to use at home
Springtime riverbanks all over the UK are carpeted with beautiful, fragrant wild garlic. This is one of my favourite foraging crops, and it’s super versatile for use in the kitchen. Like bulb garlic, wild garlic has lots of beneficial properties and can lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Finding wild garlic
Chances are, you’ll smell it before you spot it! Wild garlic favours shady, damp conditions, so head for rivers and streams in woodland for prime pickings. You’ll notice its clumps of thick, bright green pointed leaves and in later spring, delicate spray-like white blooms – both of which are edible. It’s important to
make sure the land you’re foraging on isn’t privately owned, and getting the landowner’s permission to pick if so. Make sure to just cleanly remove the leaves with scissors, leaving the bulb intact, and minimise your impact on the local environment by only picking from areas with lots of growth so that plenty is left over for the wildlife.
Make sure to wash and dry the wild garlic thoroughly before preparing in any way, and with any foraging please do make sure you’ve definitely got the right plant before eating. Here, I’ll let you know three simple ways of preparing and using your wild garlic.
Use in place of garlic cloves
The leaves are really soft and quite mild compared to bulb garlic, so can be added to lots of different meals with minimal preparation. Just slice the fresh leaves thinly and add to soups, stir fries, and sparingly in salad dressings. They also make a great topping for adding a bit of punch to store-bought pizzas, and I love this recipe for wild garlic, broccoli and mushroom pizza. Mix finely-chopped leaves through salted butter and add to a sliced baguette for delicious instant wild garlic butter.
Blitz for wild garlic pesto
Pesto is one of life’s simple pleasures, and homemade pesto is even more delicious! Throw your washed leaves into a food processor (or pound in your pestle and mortar) with pine nuts or walnuts, a pinch of salt,
plenty of olive oil, parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon – simple! Store your wild garlic pesto in a sterilised jar, where it will keep for at least a week, and stir liberally through your pasta, dot onto pizza or spread thickly on toast before adding cheese and grilling. Delicious!
Use flowers as a garnish
The delicate white flowers of edible garlic have a delicate garlicky flavour, and they’re totally edible too. They look beautiful scattered across salads, or any meal you’d like to garnish. I’ve also written this article on other edible flowers.
If you end up with a glut of wild garlic, you can also blitz the leaves and preserve in olive oil to keep it fresh for longer – up to three weeks. Make sure the leaves are totally covered with oil to protect them from the air. You can also wash and dry the leaves and freeze them in a freezer bag, or place the wild garlic oil into a container or ice cube tray to pop in meals when you’re cooking. Happy foraging, and relax in the knowledge you’re keeping the vampires away too!