Four things to do with wild garlic

Wild garlic season is knocking on, but there’s still plenty of it about, and it must rank among the most easy to distinguish of all wild plants. The swathes of wide green leaves and white flowers that cover woodland banks are distinctive enough, but if in doubt, you just have to rub it in your fingers and smell it.

I happen to think the flowers are the best bit (my mate Austin reckons they’re great fried in tempura batter, though I haven’t had the chance to try it yet), but many will disagree, citing the delicate, chive-like flavour of the young leaves. Whatever your opinion, there are three important things to know about wild garlic, also known as ramsons, or ramps if you’re from the US.

1. It keeps pretty well in the fridge.
2. You might as well not bother with the bulbs (and actually you’re not supposed to dig wild plants up anyway).
3. It seems to lose its flavour quite quickly with cooking.

With that in mind, here are my favourite things to do with wild garlic:

Make a risotto

The most important thing is to add it as late on as you dare. I tend to stir it in with the grated parmesan once I’ve taken it off the heat. Slice up a few more leaves to sprinkle on top.

Chop it up and put it in a sandwich

Sometimes raw is best. If you can find any unopened flower pods then these are especially good for a bit of a kick in a nice glazed ham sandwich.

Make a chorizo and ramsons omelette

Two eggs, full-fat milk (there’s a creamery in the village where E works, and lately she’s been bringing home bottles of old-school, unpasteurised stuff with the flecks of cream floating in it), chorizo and a big handful of chopped wild garlic.

Blend it with olive oil

People rave about ramsons pesto, but I’m not sure you need to complicate matters by mixing it with the pine nuts and herbs and stuff. Sometimes I slosh in a bit of balsamic vinegar, but that’s it. This is glorious spooned over pasta, and also makes rather lovely canapes to go with a good strong Martini. Just spread some of the wild garlic mix on some squares of crispbread, stick a slice of mozarella on top, and garnish with one of those peppy little white flowers.

4 Responses

  1. Martin Lindqvist

    Hi Joly!
    Im writing to you cause i want to warn you about the extremely bad weather conditions in the swedish mountains. Me and my friend tried to start the Green Ribbon in yesterday on Grövelsjöns mountain lodge but there was to much snow left above the tree line. Up to 75 cm and lot of water puddles. The spring has been unusually cold in whole Sweden and thats why there is so much snow this time of year. I will recommend you to start later in June.

    I wish you a wonderful trek in the beutiful wilderness of Sweden.

    Best regards
    Martin Lindqvist

    1. indyjols

      Hello Martin, and thank you so much for the warning. It’s really kind of you to get in contact. Torkel and Annica have also passed on the message about the weather conditions – it sounds like it is certainly not the right time to get started on the trail, so I’m going to delay my start as you suggest. When are you planning to try again? It would be great if you could let me know if you hear anything further about the conditions. Thank you so much again for messaging me, and likewise I wish you the best of luck and a lovely summer on the trail.

  2. Roger

    Hi All,

    Does anyone know if there is a recipe for wild garlic pesto that is sealed in jars hot? This way it should keep (unopened) all year round. I know it can be frozen, but I would favour the ‘jar’ approach. I have been told that covering the pesto in a layer of oil is dangerous as botulism can easily occur…

    Many thanks

    Roger

    1. indyjols

      Hi Roger, and thanks for commenting. I’ve never encountered such a recipe, but I bet there is one somewhere. Do you use Facebook at all? There’s a group on there called ‘Woodland Ways’ (there are two actually, but you want the one at https://www.facebook.com/groups/9335387251/). I reckon if you post your query up there you’re bound to get some good advice. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: