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How to forage wild garlic and make wild garlic pesto

Spring is upon us and the smell of wild garlic is in the air! Wild garlic, or ramsons as they are also known, can be found in almost all woods. 

When they're around, often in great carpets, they are difficult to miss. The smell is unmistakable so follow your nose!

How to forage wild garlic:

  • Visit woods between late March and July.
  • Look out for their bright white flowers on damp soils and slopes.
  • When you find the plant, pick long leaves that are bright in colour.
  • Be sure to carefully pick the leaves from close to the ground but make sure to leave the bulb underground and intact for next year.
Keep an eye (and nostril) out for wild garlic on your next walk. (Photo: Richard Becker/WTML)
Keep an eye (and nostril) out for wild garlic on your next walk. (Photo: Richard Becker/WTML)

Tips for foraging wild garlic:

  • Always follow our sustainable foraging guidelines.
  • The best way to check that you've picked wild garlic is to crush the leaves in the palm and take a sniff. If it smells like garlic, then you've picked the right plant.
  • Find out how to identify wild garlic.

Start your foraging adventure today

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Once you've collected your delicious wild garlic, it's time to make something with it! There are lots of recipes for wild garlic but my favourite thing to make is pesto.

How to make wild garlic pesto

Ingredients

  • 100g wild garlic leaves
  • 50g parmesan cheese or 50g nutritional yeast for a vegan and veggie friendly version
  • 50g toasted pine nuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Wash wild garlic leaves thoroughly.
  2. Place the leaves, parmesan, olive oil and pine nuts into a food processor and blitz. You could do this with a pestle and mortar if you want to be more traditional.
  3. Add more oil if you want to have a thinner pesto.
  4. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Impress your friends by rustling up this pesto! (Photo: Madeleine Steinbach/Alamy Stock Photo)
Impress your friends by rustling up this pesto! (Photo: Madeleine Steinbach/Alamy Stock Photo)

Wild garlic pesto is fantastic mixed with fresh pasta for a simple dish, but it's great on its own for dipping your favourite nibbles into.

Wild garlic recipes

Wild garlic is a really versatile ingredient. If you want to enjoy the pure taste of wild garlic you can treat it like spinach and toss it in some olive oil over a low heat. The wilted leaves are perfect in an omelette - or scrambled eggs if the omelette goes wrong!

Wild garlic soup is another favourite of mine, it's an easy yet delicious starter. Simply simmer wild garlic leaves, cooked potato and softened onion in veg stock for 20-25 minutes. Add a dollop of cream, blend, and then you're done.

You could even wrap a fillet of fish in wild garlic leaves and pop in the oven to bake. The leaves are much milder than standard garlic so they won't overpower the fish. Why not try serving with new potatoes in a wild garlic butter for an extra spring kick?

What else will you find in the woods?

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