Wild garlic has such a short season, so Its time to seize the moment and make the most of it.. when it’s gone, it’s gone! (and it almost has gone since I’m so late getting round to finally posting this up)…
I had intended to write this post and recipe right at the beginning of the season, but that beautiful UK sunny spell and my garden swept me away from the computer – I will have another blog post up soon to bring you up to speed with what I have been up to in the garden; what I have been harvesting, new recipes that the harvest has inspired as well as what I have planted for this year. For now, we can thank the rain for making me get behind the computer and share this knowledge with you, hopefully giving you enough time to go for a forage.
Wild garlic pops up in woodland areas in early spring and is usually gone by the end of May. You can buy it from your local vegetable suppliers, greengrocers, and even some supermarkets, but there is nothing quite like getting out and picking it from a woodland if you can – as long as you respect your surroundings & only take what you need. Be careful that you don’t mix it up with lily of the valley which looks very similar but is poisonous. The sure way to tell if it is wild garlic is by the smell, you can usually smell the garlic in the air as it tends to grow concentrated in a wide area, but to make doubly sure you have the right plant its best to pick a leaf, tear it and smell it in your hand, if it smells of garlic then its wild garlic. It is also wise to familiarise yourself with its appearance before you trek out, taking some images of both plants with you to compare.
Oh, and the good news is.. you can grow it in your garden or in pots too! I will be on this for next season as circumstances this year have prevented me from getting out there into the wild in time, although I have managed to buy some from the local greengrocers.
Wild Garlic has many reported health benefits including antibacterial, antiseptic and has recently been proven to lower blood pressure so is a good preventative for heart disease and stroke (more so than regular garlic bulbs). Nutritionally it provides, amongst other elements, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and copper. Younger leaves provide the best flavour and are at their nutritional peak. As well as the leaves being edible, you can also eat the stalks and flowers – the bulbs under the ground are also edible but there is hardly anything to them, so its common practice to leave them in the ground to provide more growth year after year. If you wish to store wild garlic for its medicinal properties for use throughout the year, it is advised to either freeze it or make a tincture using alcohol – drying it loses a lot of the nutrition and benefits.
There are many great recipes for wild garlic, it can simply be chopped and mixed into salads or sprinkled onto any dish to add extra flavour, or added during the cooking process. Probably the most popular use for it is to make Wild Garlic Pesto, of which there are endless variations. Here I will share with you my favourite pesto recipe that I have developed and tend to stick by, although its good to know that if you don’t have these exact ingredients to hand then you can easily swap things out and still come up trumps.
This Wild Pesto recipe is Vegan & gluten free – it is delicious simply spread on fresh crusty bread with cucumber and lettuce or my favourite way to enjoy it is stuffed inside a large portobello mushroom and baked.