Foraging For Wild Garlic
Wild garlic season is well and truly upon us (late March to July) and it’s becoming the biggest trend for the adventurous foodie. The catch? Unless you have a very good (read super fancy and expensive) food market or a vegetable subscription box, you have to find it yourself.
Where to look
Wild garlic favours shady and damp spots. So look for wild garlic in local parks and woodlands under big trees. As a Birmingham Girl, wild garlic has even been spotted along the city’s numerous canal paths so you may even find it in urban spots around city centres.
If you’re struggling, check out what local food Instagrammers are doing and see where they’ve found it. Use #wildgarlic in your discover feed and see if others have already been foraging, or post in forums like Reddit, or even your local City Girl page to find answers within your community.
What to look for
The first thing you will likely notice is the smell, wild garlic is almost a garlic and spring onion hybrid and produces an allicin smell that you will likely recognise. Once you’ve followed your nose, look for long thick green smells, around 20 centimetres in length, with white flowers.
Later in the season the flowers won’t be around but the leaves will be, so try picking a leaf and rubbing it in your hands, if the aroma is released, you’ve found your plant.
Preparation and foraging tips
So first things first, do not start taking wild garlic from private land, only focus your search in public places, or if you know the landowner.
As a rule of thumb, foraging etiquette suggests that you take up to ⅓ of the plant and leave the rest for someone else to pick. Although it is legal to pick the leaves, you are not permitted to pick the bulbs (which are miniature versions of the garlic we see in supermarkets) - luckily you wouldn’t want to eat those anyway!
Once you’ve picked your leaves, keep them in an airtight container in your fridge, unless you want everything smelling like garlic, and when ready to use give them a very thorough wash.
Using wild garlic
Wild garlic doesn’t actually need any preparation at all. You can add it to salad and eat the whole leaf alongside some mixed leaves to add some extra flavour. Most common is to turn the wild garlic into a simple vegan-friendly pesto.
If you’re wanting a simple way of wowing dinner guests, add a small amount of wild garlic paste to softened butter before returning to the fridge to make chunks of wild garlic butter to serve with bread or to make en papillote with white fish.
You can keep up to date with Alice’s food escapades on her instagram https://www.instagram.com/ali_lou_food/