On last week’s WanderWomen: Fresh Air Friday experience we explored some lesser known woodlands of Holyrood Park. We stumbled across some wild garlic, which I like using in a variety of recipes during the months of March to June, which is when it can be found. If you let your nose guide you, you cannot miss the garlicky scent in the air when approaching a patch of wild garlic!
It is commonly found in damp, ancient deciduous woodlands, shady lanes and some hedgerows. Like Bluebells, it prefers slightly acidic soils so if you know a good Bluebell wood it might have Wild Garlic too. Given suitable conditions it can be prolific carpeting significant areas, almost turning the woodland floor white.
It’s the bright green leaves that you want to pick, ideally before their flowers open. That’s when they are at their best and most flavoursome.
Don’t get it confused with the leaves of Lily of the Valley and Autumn Crocus – you will always be on the save side crushing a leave and having a sniff – if you smell garlic, that’s the one!
I like using it raw in salads, in sandwiches, dressings and finely chopped as a garnish. A popular use is in pesto in the place of basil. I am a great fan of garlic butter made by mixing finely chopped leaves into salted butter. It freezes well too.
When out in nature foraging: Never dig up the bulbs and only take what you need!
Wild Garlic has traditionally been throughout Europe as a spring tonic due to its blood-purifying properties, similarly to bulb garlic, wild garlic is also thought to lower cholesterol and blood-pressure, which in turn helps to reduce the risk of diseases such as heart attack or stroke.
Go out there into the Spring wonderland, and get some nutritious additions for your meal planner!
Curious to learn more about foraging, how to live in tune with the seasons, and with nature?
Treat yourself to a WanderWomen experience!