Thursday, 16 May 2013
wild garlic foraging
As a child, I practically grew up in my local park, where I would regularly walk the beloved family sheep dog called Floss. I remember the early potential days of summer would always be heralded by the arrival of wild Garlic, growing in the shade of the woods where the white flowers made it look like a sprinkling of snow along with the heady aroma of garlic that was hard to miss!
I recently read a magazine that was telling its readers that the season of wild Garlic was upon and it was a short season at that. Wild Garlic tends to appear toward the middle to late April and plentiful in May but by June it is non-existent and it is a much milder and sweeter sibling to the heady, punchy Garlic we all know and buy commercially.
Having always been keen to forage most of my life, I decided on one of my free days to go for a long walk and make it a point to stop and collect some and enjoy this new experience.
Wild Garlic is hard to miss...the smell for one! If you are not sure what you are picking, I find by smelling the leaves, stem and flowers, it will smell of garlic.
Years of experience has taught me to know what I am looking for but if you are not sure, do some research and commit what the plant looks like to mind! The white flowers are a give away.
The leave and flowers are edible, I roughly chop the leaves up and these can be used to make garlic butter, sprinkle in salads and generally treat as if its a spring onion leaves and use as so. The flowers makes beautiful garnishes to salads. I have cleans all the heads of flowers and removed the papery bits that were the buds and frozen them whole to pull out as and when i need a little touch up magic!
The stems are edible too, use these as you would chives, sprinkling them on top of sups, salads and even eggs benedicts!
The bulbs, I would leave. They taste bitter and not very nice, plus just taking maybe a leaf or a stem from one plant ensures you are not harming the plant and leaving plenty for it to survive for next year. Only take what you need! And if you're not sure - leave it!
As you can see, I divided my hoard into stems, leaves and flowers as they all being used differently.
The eaves and stems are currently being made into batches of wild garlic butter and having tasted the first lot, I'm pretty impressed! I will no doubt put a post up soon of the recipe once I tweaked it all to my satisfaction.
I hope to freeze my batches and give them as gifts or when I am cooking up a nice bit of steak for the hubby, cutting a piece off and propping it to melt over the meat is already having me dreaming!
I'm hoping to collect more Garlic soon on my days off and making the most of the short season and preserving it ahead for the year to enjoy! It really was a beautiful walk and the bonus was discovering a bluebell woodlands too, which also have a short season to view and enjoy!
So the next time you are out walking, keep your eyes open and your nose twitching for some wild Garlic!
Enjoy and be safe!