Updated: 4 days ago
Quite an aromatic and pungent flavour greets you in many of the woods around here at this time of year. The smell of wild garlic which is vaguely disorientating outside of a kitchen. In the past I have made a pesto and chucked it into a risotto, this year I thought it time to get a bit more adventurous. It can be found from late March til May time and tastes better before the flowers emerge but the flowers are also edible and can be thrown into salads. The bulbs are apparently also edible but probably best to leave in the ground to grow back next year.
It's very pretty and even more so when the white alium flowers emerge, but it is easy to spot the sword shaped leaves that cover the woods floor in damp areas and often with bluebells.
Wild garlic is usually a sign that the woodland is an ancient one. Funny, it was never popular with my Grandmother and Mother who walked in these woods but it has become incredibly popular again which is wonderful as it is so bountiful and local, and free of course. The bulbs were traditionally used for medicinal use as a key ingredient in a tonic for rheumatoid problems and high cholesterol. The bulbs attract bees and apparently wild boar though there are none in the wild around here.
The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Great in a risotto or pasta dish You can use it as you would spinach and it makes a great pesto, so time to replace those plastic packs of imported basil and head to the woods. It's also very good for you, garlic has antibacterial, antibiotic and possibly antiviral properties, and it also contains vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and copper. Studies have also shown that it may help reduce blood pressure too so tuck in.
You can try growing it in your garden if you have the right conditions but apparently it is highly invasive so best grown in a pot.
Here is a recipe for wild garlic pesto is from Riverford
100g wild garlic leaves
50g hazelnuts shelled and roasted
a few splashes of olive oil
a squeeze of loemon
salt and pepper
Put all ingredients in a blender and whizz until you have a paste.