Thursday, 19 May 2011

Wild garlic season...

The brief window of opportunity for wild garlic foraging is closing but its been a bumper year and I thought I'd write a bit about this wild food and some of the ways you can make use of it while its around (so you'll be prepared for next spring!).

Wild garlic flower
Wild garlic flower

Wild garlic (otherwise known as ramsons, buckrams, wood garlic and various other names) is related to chives and can be used in much the same way that you would use chives, but resulting in a garlicky rather than an oniony flavour.

One of the best places near us for wild garlic foraging is in the woodlands at the Manjushri Buddhist centre near Ulverston. I always feel a bit bad picking Buddhist wild garlic but the woodland is completely carpeted with the plants and we only take a few leaves, never the roots. I'm sure Buddha would understand...

Wild garlic patch at Manjushri
A wild garlic woodland carpet

Wild garlic at base of tree
Wild garlic plants growing at the base of a tree

The leaves are quite prone to wilting once they've been picked but we've found that standing them with the cut ends in water in the fridge perks them up and makes them last for about a week. Make sure you change the water every so often though.

Keeping the wild garlic fresh
Reusing a yoghurt pot to keep wild garlic fresh in the fridge

As with chives, wild garlic is great with anything cheesy, eggy or potatoey. I'm not so keen on it in a salad though and we don't eat the flowers after over-enthusiastically adding far too many to a meal when we first discovered wild garlic and being completely garlicked out.

Ade livens up his packed lunches by adding wild garlic to cottage cheese...
Preparing wild garlic cottage cheese
Snipping wild garlic leaves into cottage cheese

Wild garlic cottage cheese
Wild garlic cottage cheese

Its great with cheese on toast. You could grate the cheese and mix it with snipped up wild garlic leaves before putting it on the bread/toast but if that's too much of a hassle, you can just hide the snipped leaves under the slices of cheese before the toast goes under the grill (like we do).

Wild garlic is also lovely in scrambled eggs (just snip the leaves into the pan a moment or two before serving so that they wilt slightly but don't really cook). Notice how there aren't any photos of wild garlic cheese on toast or scrambled eggs... I can never wait to take a photo - too tasty! :)

It works really well in an omelette...
Wild garlic in an omelette
Wild garlic in a cheese, mushroom and smoked tofu omelette

Or mixed into some mash...
Two root mash with wild garlic
Potato and parsnip mash with wild garlic

And apparently it makes a fantastic pesto, which is something we'll have to try next year!

Sea kale is another locally-found wild food that we've been tempted by recently but it's not very abundant so we leave it alone and just admire the thick purple leaves and little yellow flowers.

Sea kale
Sea kale

Sea kale flowers
Sea kale flowers

If you're interested in foraging, there are lots of great wild food books out there. Food for Free by Richard Mabey is a classic but I would also highly recommend the River Cottage Hedgerow and Edible Seashore books (which I've read from cover to cover, along with most of the other River Cottage handbooks). Happy foraging! :)

1 comment:

  1. Yum! - it's 8 am, not long had my breakfast and I still got hungry looking at your photos! xxx