Wild garlic

Posted: Tuesday 22 April 2014
by James Alexander-Sinclair

If you go down to the woods today, you might notice a rather distinct oniony smell among the unfurling leaves and the bluebells.

If you go down to the woods today, you might notice a rather distinct oniony smell among the unfurling leaves and the bluebells.

It's the scent of wild garlic. You'll recognise it from its wide, soft, easily bruised leaves and small white flowers. Its botanical name is Allium ursinum - the classicists and astronomers among you will recognise the word 'ursinum' as having something to do with bears. This is because bears (and wild boars, incidentally) love the bulbs of wild garlic and are inclined to dig them up.

Wild garlic is also known as 'buckrams', 'bear leek' and 'ramsons'. It's a great favourite among foragers. Wild garlic leaves and flowers can be used in soups or salads, or as flavouring in quiches. They also make a good alternative to basil in pesto sauce.

If you really want to get your foraging off to a flying start this spring, then try Wild Garlic and Nettle Soup.

You'll need:

1 ltr vegetable stock

350g of wild garlic

1 small leek

1.8kg of young stinging nettles (just the tops)

250ml of sour cream

50g of small pasta shapes (cooked)

Bring stock to simmer then add the wild garlic, the leek (chopped) and the nettles.

Cook for about ten minutes. When cool, put it through a blender.

Add the sour cream and blend together.

Return to heat and add pasta.

Et voila…

When harvesting, be careful as the leaves can sometimes be mistaken for lily of the valley or arum leaves, both of which are highly poisonous. If in doubt, sniff the leaves: the real McCoy will be unmistakably garlicky.

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Talkback: Wild garlic
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veggiepatch1 23/04/2014 at 12:49

I am still waiting for our wild garlic to grow in the woods. I love eating wild garlic raw - lovely on toast or just on their own or in a salad as the taste is so much milder than garlic cloves.

oldchippy 23/04/2014 at 17:45

I thought wild plants were protected against being picked,maybe I'm wrong!!!

SwissSue 23/04/2014 at 18:27

The way wild garlic spreads, I doubt if someone picking a few leaves will do any harm!

CharleyD 23/04/2014 at 19:16

Not sure about UK law but Manx law states that you can pick wild flowers etc but not dig them up.  I agree with Swiss Sue though, I think trying to stop it spreading is more of a problem. 

atwaydap 23/04/2014 at 20:41

I have a garlic smelling plant in my garden but the leaves are more like onions. Is it a relative? It is very invasive & has small white bulbs .

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