Wild garlic grows in abundance in Spring, and with the mild winters we’ve been having recently there’s even more of it around.
All parts of the plant are edible, but for the most part I recommend just harvesting the leaves , leaving the flowers for the bees, especially in early spring. The bulbs are delicious but in areas that are not densely populated with wild garlic leave the bulbs where they are. They are an important part of the wildlife and you’ll be rewarded in subsequent years. Plus it’s illegal if you don’t have permission from the landowner.
You can find wild garlic in damp and shaded areas, old woodlands are likely places as are North facing hedges along country roads and shady lanes. It’s fairly difficult to confuse with other plants due to it’s pungent smell, however it does look a little similar to Lily of the Valley, younger Lords and Ladies Leaves and Autumn Crocus. If you roll the leaf in your hand and don’t get a delicious garlicky smell, put it down and wash your hands, it’s not wild garlic and it’s likely poisonous.
So once you’ve collected your harvest of wild garlic, give it a rinse and get chopping. It can be thrown into most dishes, sandwiches, omelettes, salads, pastas, mashed potato, pakoras, soups and breads. However my favourite way to prepare wild garlic is by making it into a pesto. The pesto will keep for weeks and you can continue to add it to salad dressings, pastas, dips and soups long after it’s season is over.
100g wild garlic
100g cashews or 100g pine nuts
1 unwaxed lemon (zest and juice)
150-200ml of olive oil
Crushed black pepper
Chilli flakes (optional)
Teaspoon of sugar (optional)
(parmesan is also optional, replace 25g of nuts with 50g of parmesan)