Mother Nature is a wonderful woman and I am reminded of this every year at this time; after the long, hard winter there is nothing more thrilling than things finally beginning to show signs of green!
Here in Perthshire, this often means the first small shoots of wild garlic dotted all around the hills, river paths and woodlands. You can smell them long before you get within sight and for that reason, if you’re new to foraging then wild garlic is an easy place to start – it’s really easy to identify and usually grows in thick blankets of green shoots, the wonderful pungent smell giving away its whereabouts!
Late spring is the perfect time to go looking and if you ask around you will no doubt be told about some hidden pocket of garlicky goodness near you. Unlikely to ever hit superfood status due to its fantastic price point (free!), this wonderful little plant is however, a powerhouse of health benefits. The most well-known of these is its effectiveness in reducing blood pressure, heart disease and the risk of stroke but it can also play a part in warding off spring sniffles and helping with digestion.
Despite its strong smell the taste is smoother than traditional garlic, making it even more versatile as an ingredient. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, with leaves appearing in March and flowers emerging from April until June. Once it flowers you will find a really pretty addition for your salads and the ideal ingredient for making infused garlic flower oil.
If you’ve been stuck in a neep rut for a few months get out into the glorious spring air and take yourself on a walk around the countryside. Now, lift your nose up into the air and open your eyes; all around the woods and streams is the very best ingredient that nature has to offer. I bet you there’s a soup or a salad just waiting to be harvested.
I would just say that there are some unwritten rules around foraging; while woodlands are great places to find wild food, we all must play our part by collecting responsibly. Only take what you need and will cook, and don’t over harvest any one area. The Woodland Trust has a really handy guide over on their website – it also has some tasty recipe ideas so well worth a look!
Wild garlic is ‘wild’ which means it keeps growing till it has exhausted its own resources at the end of its season, which is usually around 2 months. Right now the shoots are young which makes them perfect for eating whole in something like a stir fry. Later, they become less tender and that is the ideal time to chop them up and make some soup or fry off in butter to drizzle over a steak. Why not try this wonderful WILD GARLIC PESTO >>> from the folks at Small City, Big Personality Food & Drink?