I’ve been swept away on an aromatic love affair with wild garlic in the last few weeks. Starting from mid March this wild uncultivated food, also known as bear’s garlic or ramsons, explodes onto restaurants’ menus across the country, with chefs holding the location of their special ingredient close to their chests. The plant, however, is quite common in the UK and tends to grow prolifically in most woodlands, particularly in shady, cool and damp places, and often with bluebells. Care should be taken to identify wild garlic correctly as the leaves resemble those of lily of the valley, which is poisonous, but are a much deeper green in colour. What should be unmistakable though is the smell and so one of the surest ways of detecting the presence of wild garlic in any particular location is simply stopping and sniffing. You will smell it!
Given its antibacterial, antibiotic, antiseptic and anti … well, just about everything, properties, it makes sense to pack as much into your diet as you can. Wild garlic is at its best and most flavoursome at the beginning of the season, in early spring, when bright green and before the flowers open. These wonderful luscious green leaves and even the pretty white flowers can be used in many different ways. There are so many fantastic recipes for wild garlic (check out delicious.magazine , Great British Chefs or BBC Food to name just a few) but my favourite thing to make is pesto. It’s delicious thrown through pasta, swirled through mashed potatoes, with grilled fish or perfectly roast chicken. Try using it as a salad dressing, with your sandwich or to build flavour in soups. Divine!