Last spring, like most of us during the lockdown, I did a lot of exploring in my local area. While wandering through the woodlands and coppices I had discovered on the Dorset/Wiltshire border, I came across loads of wild garlic (Allium ursinum) growing on the forest floors. That was when I first decided to pick some of this edible delight and try it for myself!
Fast forward a year, it’s mid-March again, and wild garlic’s brilliant green spears have appeared in copious amounts, in my nearby woods!
Wild garlic, also known as ramsoms, grows until June on forest floors and shady slopes along country lanes. You will find it growing in leafy clumps and its distinctive garlicky smell also makes it easy to identify.
Wild garlic is at its best, and most potent before its white flowers appear in April. Those flowers make great salad toppers, though!
It’s super easy to harvest – just cut off the green leaves, making sure you leave the bulbs in the ground so that it grows back next year. It usually grows in abundance but be sure to check there’s enough left for the wildlife, and for other fellow wild garlic pickers!
The best bit is that there are so many recipes to try with this versatile ingredient. You can add it to salads and stews. You can chop it up finely and add to dips, and make wild garlic butter and even oil.
While I’ve tried a few of these, my favourite is still wild garlic pesto!
Wild garlic pesto recipe
Blanch 100g wild garlic leaves, then add to a blender with 50g parmesan, 50g pine nuts, 2 tbsp olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Stir into cooked pasta and enjoy!