|A blanket of wild garlic with our spaniel, Duke|
When you are out walking early spring, keep your eyes on the look out for wild garlic. In woodland, beneath the opening canopy of trees, you may find clumps of Allium ursinum growing densely in vast areas covering the ground.
The young leaves of wild garlic begin to emerge in March, and if you aren't in familiar territory, they can be easily overlooked. Quite by chance a few years ago, we discovered a patch close to our home. It was later in the season, so they had already formed clusters of white flowers, meaning the leaves were less tender, but at least we could be sure it wasn't the poisonous Lily of the Valley.
We return to our favourite spot again this year, and will frequently visit over the season, which runs well into June. As we reach down to pick the leaves, a garlicky perfume fills the air, a fragrance that is symbolic of the arrival of spring.
Reach down low and pick whole leaves, and where you can, the thin white stems as well (if you aren't planning to use them right away). Watch out for small stinging nettles (ouch!), which will have also begun to shoot up from the ground.
As we have an abundance of wild garlic so close to us, we forage every other day during the season.
|Wild garlic growing in woodland|
Ideas for How to Cook Wild Garlic
Everyday food in our household is influenced by Asian and Chinese cuisine. A very typical way to use wild garlic is to simply add a few handfuls to a stir-fry or noodle dish.
Here are some more ideas on how to cook with wild garlic:
- Add a few large handfuls of wild garlic leaves into a Thai red curry. Simply add the leaves toward the end of the cooking time
- Into a pan, sauté wild garlic until wilted, before adding pancake batter for Wild garlic savoury pancakes.
- Sauté wild garlic with mushrooms, for a vegetable side dish
- Add wild garlic to prawn or chicken fried noodles
- For something unusual, try making a Japanese steamed egg custard (Chawanmushi), adding a few garlic leave strips
- NEW : Try making Wild Garlic & Pork dumplings
More on Wild Garlic on this blog:
Wild Garlic & Pork dumplings recipe
Wild Garlic in the Woods