Spring is one of my favourite times of the year for lots of reasons but I always look forward to finding wild garlic springing up from the ground on my walks at this time of year. It’s a really versatile plant with lots of uses and a very unique flavour, so I encourage you all to keep your eyes peeled when out on your walks this Spring.
Where to find wild garlic
If you’re new to foraging, wild garlic is a great place to start as the strong smelling plant can easily be sniffed out and identified. Wild garlic likes to grow in woodlands or forest, in shady, damp spots. It’s a perennial plant (comes back year after year) which begins to grow in February/March time until around June/July.
You will recognise this edible plant by its long, smooth leave which end in a point, when it’s flowering, you’ll see small white star-shaped heads. Wild garlic leaves and flowers are edible, both raw or cooked. It has a milder flavour than bulb-garlic and has lots of culinary, disinfectant and medicinal uses.
How to forage wild garlic responsibly
Usually wild garlic grows in abundance so it’s perfectly fine to take a handful home with you but there are some things you might want to consider:
- If the land is privately owned always ask permission before foraging anything.
- Make sure to pick a small amount, proportional with how large the patch is. You will want to leave enough for others, and also make sure you do not prevent the plants from thriving and coming back next year.
- Consider wildlife and other plants in the surrounding area. If the plant you’re foraging is their food source you must make sure to leave enough that the eco-system can remain unaffected.
- Pick leaves which grow slightly back from the path. This is more for your own good in case the area is also visited by dog walkers!
How to use wild garlic
You can use leaves and flowers raw in salads or sandwiches to add decoration and a punchy garlic flavour. You can also add it to butter or (dried) to salt as a means of flavouring. It makes a great pizza topping, or added into risottos, soups and onion bhajis. Some of my favourite recipes are below: