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Wild Garlic

Find out about wild garlic

Wild Garlic

foraging | recipes

Wild garlic (ramsons) growing in the woods in spring

Wild garlic (allium ursinium) also known as Ramsons, wood garlic, bearís garlic, and many other names, grows in deciduous woods and forests. The leaves and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked and are particularly good in salads (raw) and soups (lightly cooked).

Wild garlic grows in the early spring, and flowers in the weeks before leaves start to grow on the deciduous trees.

Harvesting Wild Garlic

Wild garlic plants - bulbs and leaves showing

Wild garlic leaves should be harvested in March to May before the plant flowers. By May and June the leaves start to fade as the energy of the plant goes into growing the flowers (which are also edible). The flowers become more strongly flavoured as the summer passes and the seeds develop.

If you dug up the bulb in the autumn it could be used as you would a clove of common cultivated garlic (though it is not itself split into cloves), but then the plant would then be lost!

Wild garlic grows in moist ground under dappled shade.

Correct Identification of Wild Garlic

Wild garlic looks quite similar to the poisonous lily of the valley - therefore before collecting what you believe to be wild garlic, rub and crush some of the leaves in your hand to ensure that the scent of garlic is released.

Medicinal Benefits of Wild Garlic

Wild garlic can reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure, and the juices in its leaves have an antiseptic quality.

Cooking with Wild Garlic

As with all foraged greens, the leaves and flowers should be washed well before eating. Wild garlic is particularly delicious when stirred into pasta and rice dishes or omelettes during the last minute or two of cooking, when added to sauces for meat and fish dishes, or cooked into soups. Wild garlic can be used as an alternative to parsley, and also cooked with nettles as an alternative to spinach. It makes an excellent pesto sauce as pictured below.

Wild garlic pesto with linguini and pine nuts

Cultivating Wild Garlic

It is relatively easy to cultivate wild garlic in the domestic garden as long as you can replicate its favoured growing conditions. Wild garlic does an excellent job of repelling moles. It can be grown from seed, or existing bulbs can be divided in the last weeks of summer just before the plant dies down for the winter. In the right conditions, wild garlic will propagate itself well and can be a bit invasive.

Article Published: 11:40, 19th Nov 2010

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