Garlic is one of my favourite ingredients. It’s versatile, always delicious and there aren’t many dishes that wouldn’t do better for having a clove or two thrown in. However, I might argue that wild garlic is even better!
Wild garlic is also known as ramsons or wood garlic and its scientific name is Allium ursinum. It’s really common in damp and sloped areas of woodlands and the scent of wild garlic fills the air from around March to July. Here is a short guide on how to find wild garlic and what to do with it.
How to find wild garlic
• Always follow our sustainable foraging guidelines • Wild garlic is most commonly found from March to July • Carefully pick the leaves from close to the ground, being careful to leave the bulbs in the soil for next year • Pick healthy leaves that are long and bright in colour • Try and pick the leaves from an area that’s less likely to have been trampled • The best way to check that what you’ve picked is wild garlic is to crush the leaves in your palm and take a good sniff. If it smells like garlic, then you’ve picked the right plant • See our top tips on identifying wild garlic.
Wild garlic is a fantastically versatile ingredient. The leaves have a much milder taste than regular garlic, which lends them to all kinds of different dishes. The flowers can also be a fantastic decoration for savoury dishes. Some of the best ways to use wild garlic include a fresh garlic pesto – find the recipe here. This pesto is the perfect partner for some fresh filled pasta; it’s also fantastic just slathered on some wholemeal toast with a poached egg on top for a delicious breakfast.
If you’re looking for a pure taste of wild garlic you can treat it like spinach and toss it in some olive oil over a low heat and let it wilt gently. Just be aware you need lots of leaves to make a decent portion. The wilted leaves are perfect in an omelette, or scrambled eggs if the omelette goes wrong!
Lastly, the garlic is a perfect side dish when paired with other spring ingredients. You could toss some crushed leaves in roasted new potatoes for a delicious side to roast chicken, lamb or steamed fish.
Foraging in February and March
There are many other things available to forage at this time of year. They include:
• Chickweed (Stellaria media) – great when blitzed into the pesto above, or the tender leaves can be used in salads. Better yet they are packed full of vitamins!
• Nettles (Urtica dioica) – this famous stinging plant is rich in vitamins and iron and is abundant almost everywhere. Leaves when wilted have an almost spinach like flavour and make a fantastic soup.
• Gorse (Ulex europaeus) – the flowers are what you want from this spikey plant. They can brighten up any salad with their amazing yellow colour as they can be eaten raw. They are also said to be delicious when infused to make ice cream.
To find out more of what’s available to forage in your local area, we have some fantastic blogs listing what’s around in February and March.
Wild garlic is a fantastic ingredient well worth experimenting with and it is vastly abundant in your local woods. Just follow your nose! For help in foraging for wild garlic or other woodland treats, and a reminder of our sustainable foraging guidelines, take a look at our foraging guides before heading out.