Wild garlic- Ramsons( Alliaceae family)
Season– April to early June
The smell of wild garlic in the woods right now is just divine, the leaves that squeak under my feet and the wonderfully joyful white flowers that are now sitting side by side to the magical Bluebell.
I love coming back home with the smell of wild garlic heavy on my fingers and the hem of my skirt, I remember as a child having cat that would delight in rolling about in the fresh garlic leaves every year and I would love to bury my face into his fur and breathe in heady spring forest smells.
Wild Garlic as food-
A basket full of wild garlic lifts my spirit and makes me feel buzzingly healthy just looking at it. I have so many fond memories of eating this plant, such as being in the forest with a wooden board of cheese, crusty bread, fresh sardines cooked on embers and wild garlic picked from where we were sitting served with a good glug of olive oil. Making pesto with Wild Garlic, Nettles and seeds, pounding it all together in a heavy pestle and mortar in the forest kitchen with foraging groups. Eating it in a beautiful risotto along with other wild greens, lemon juice and mushrooms along the side of a fast flowing river. These are just a few of the memories and stories that this leaf conjure up in my mind as I smell it.
I adore to pop the garlic buds into my mouth just before they open their flowers, they are a punchy hit of heat and flavour that puts a spring in my step. I have just pickled a jar of wild garlic buds while my partner has fermented a jar, I’m keen to know which one will be better, I have a feeling it will be the ferment as it will be more alive and much more to my taste flavour wise.
There is so much you can do with wild garlic and you can eat it all- leaves, roots, buds and flowers. For some people the intense hit of garlic is too much, for myself I just love it. I love the flavour and the smell and I love my bearded man smelling of it too, as to me it just smells of health and vibrancy. If it is too much for you I would recommend cooking it as this immediately softens the flavour and mellows it out to a soft background lull.
Wild garlic is such a beneficial plant to have in your diet as it helps to cleanse the blood, ward off infections and boost the immune system. I like to try and find subtle and easy ways in which I can have it everyday throughout the Spring. Such as making a vinegar with it or an oil that I can add to meals everyday.
Here are a few gorgeously tasty things I have made with wild garlic that might give you an idea of the things you can try at home-
- Infused wild garlic oil- I just let the leaves sit in the organic olive oil for a few days before taking them out and then using the oil on salads and other dishes.
- Chucked in with warm new potatoes
- Added to salads
- Made into soups
- Sauces to go alongside meats, fish and veggie options
- Pickled garlic buds
- Juiced into a salad dressing
- Added into a soft cheese
- Adding to a cheese sandwich
- wild garlic risotto
Wild Garlic as medicine–
Food IS medicine and wild garlic is full of goodness that will leave your body singing. Not only does it lift the soul but it is full of vitamins, potassium, magnesium, protein and iron and is antibacterial, antibiotic, anti fungal and antiseptic. Used to treat yeast related infections and normalise gut flora this green beauty is a great ally to have on your plate.
Wild garlic clears the chest and frees the body by getting the circulation going, lowering blood pressure, and helping keep the heart healthy. It is a great spring herb for keeping sniffles, coughs and colds at bay. Wild garlic has been shown to reduce toxins in the liver and help flush through your whole system.
There are so many other things you can do with this amazing plant. If you don’t do any of the above things I would still recommend getting out amongst the trees, lying down surrounded by squeaky garlic leaves and explosions of deep scented white garlic flowers. Breath in the scent and nibble a few leaves.
Here are a few things you need to know before picking wild garlic. Be aware of its poisonous and deadly lookalike- Lilly of the valley. Which grows in a similar way and conditions to wild garlic. To ID wild garlic well remember to use your senses- foraging to me is all about your senses, it’s about getting on your knees and touching, smelling, listening and looking at the plant. Wild garlic leaves will squeak when you brush them together and they will of course smell of garlic or onions. Lilly of the valley usually flowers from may to June where as Wild garlic will usually flower from April to May. The leaves are a good way of telling too, wild garlic leaves grow from a single stem, Lilly of the valley will have three leaves per stem. The flower is very different too, wild garlic explodes in a globe of star shaped white flowers where as Lilly of the valley has little bell like flowers. If you are less than 100% sure on any plant then please don’t pick it or eat it. Ask a local foraging expert.