Wild Garlic is one of the signals that Spring is just around the corner…. however finding it and using it to it’s potential is a skill. Read Chef Tim Maddam’s wise words below and let us know your favourite recipes.
Wild garlic, in the same way as English asparagus has a short season, so it is right to use it in just about everything for the few short weeks that it will be in its prime. Within the one plant Tim uses the younger leaves as a herb, the baby seedings as a micro herb and the flowers for fritters and omelettes.
Where to find
Wild Garlic loves hedgerows and woodland edges, most foragers will be happy to share their knowledge of its location with you so ask around. The easy way to find wild garlic is to just follow your nose – but this will only work on large patches of the plant and only once it really gets into full swing of flowering, at which point it perhaps has gone a little too far. The plant is best harvested until the flowers begin to open in earnest – once it really gets going on the flowering then the leaves become bitter and stringy.
What to pick
I like to gather the whole clump of fully grown leaves and cut them at the base using a sharp knife – this gives you all of the stem and that really adds a lot of body to the leaves and makes the plant more useful as a vegetable – just sweat / fry several well washed and heavily seasoned handfuls of wild garlic in a little butter or bacon fat until the leaves wilt and the stems become tender – this can take a few minutes. I often use this wild harvest as a green vegetable in this way. You can serve it up as it is, add pasta to it, serve with poached eggs, or even cool and use as a cold veg, on toast with lots of chopped chilli, anchovy and lashings of good olive oil.
Ideas & Inspiration with Wild Garlic
Wild Garlic Curry
One of Tim’s favourite spring recipes is his wild garlic curry. Start by sweating some onions and ginger and adding in wild garlic leaves, a little coconut cream and some coriander, cumin and turmeric and you’ll have a winning dish.
Simply blend washed wild garlic leaves with lots of softened butter to make bright green wild garlic butter and add in plenty of this to freshly mashed potatoes. Then happy days, comfort food on a plate, serve up with some delicious sausages or ribbons of grass fed steak and everyone will be happy.
Wild Garlic Pesto
An all time favourite…. Blanch the washed leaves of wild garlic for a few seconds, then refresh in very cold water. Drain well and pat dry, then chop roughly, before blending with some nuts, cheese, salt, pepper and olive oil. Favourite nuts are hazelnuts and you could go parmesan, or a delicious English mature cheddar. Blend to a rough paste and store in the fridge in jars until needed & this can even freeze. Great for serving with pesto or a toast topper.
If you are into making your own butter, or simply adding flavour to a good quality butter that you’ve bought, then wild garlic is a great place to start. Simply pick your leaves, blanch, squeeze dry, blitz, squeeze dry again and then blend with your butter. Add as much as you like (this will depend on it’s end use – ie are you using this to cook with or to simply spread on your bread and butter). A good way to freeze wild garlic aswell.
Wild Garlic Soup
Wild garlic leaves make a lovely soup, just as you would make a watercress soup or a spinach soup.
So, grab your basket (children optional 🙂 ) and a knife or some scissors and get foraging.