In the woods and beside the streams, blades of brightest green are appearing. A carpet of leaves which, if trampled underfoot, release their unmistakeable scent. When walking through woodland at this time of year, the pervasive smell of wild garlic, otherwise known as Ramsons, is a true herald of spring.
Now, whilst the leaves are fresh and young, is an excellent time to forage for wild garlic, and when we head out for our weekend walk, we carry a basket and gather handfuls of leaves. As ever, with foraging, we take care to be sure that we have identified the correct plant, although with wild garlic, its familiar smell is an extremely good clue!
The flavour of wild garlic is fresher and milder than the garlic that we commonly cook with. Its uses in the kitchen are manifold. One of the simplest ways to cook with it is to stuff a couple of handfuls inside a chicken before roasting, so that its flavour can permeate the roast (this makes for excellent gravy!)
Wild garlic can be chopped into salads, layered onto pizza, or it can be combined with nettle tips in a sprightly spring soup. The absolute favourite in my kitchen is wild garlic pesto, which is a huge hit with adults and children alike. My own recipe uses cashew nuts, and has the addition of spring onions. Sarah has a more traditional recipe, should you prefer to use pine nuts. I serve it with pasta, or stirred into soups to add a little extra pizazz. I’m always on the lookout for new wild garlic recipes, and this one, for Wild Garlic Focaccia looks scrumptious, not to mention fun to bake with the children, who love to get involved with food that they have picked themselves.
If you don’t have access to spots where they grow wild, Ramsons can also be grown in gardens. As woodland plants they like damp, shady spots, and a patch of wild garlic is useful addition to a kitchen garden. You can read more about them in Sarah’s Wild Flowers book.
Thanks for reading,