Foraging for Wild Garlic
It is a glorious mid April morning in the Wye Valley, a welcome change from what’s been a rather cool start to Spring. It is a relief to see the warm sunshine stream through the kitchen window, not only can I now enjoy my Sunday morning coffee in the garden but we can embark on our planned foraging mission.
Having spent many a happy childhood summer plucking berries from hedgerows and turning them into various jams and puddings I have long known the enjoyment of foraging for food. There is something deeply satisfying in hunting, picking, preparing and cooking produce that you have harvested from the wilderness.
This time of year is perfect for foraging, especially if you are a beginner, edible plant life such as primroses, nettles and wild garlic grow in abundance and are easy to find without the heavy summer foliage. Today however we are focusing on Allium ursinum, a relative of the chive family with a distinct aroma also known as wild or bear garlic. It is peak season for this prolific growing plant and no doubt if you have walked through any British deciduous woods over the last few weeks you will have seen it growing in in large numbers often interspersed with flurries of bluebells.
Distinguished by it’s pointed green leaves and bouquet of garlic and chive, it is at it’s prime mid to late April but can be found throughout Spring up until early June. A bulbous perennial with bright green leaves and white flowers that bloom in May, the wild garlic plant is entirely edible however the leaves are by far the best bit. Unlike farmed garlic the bulbs of wild garlic are rather small and therefore difficult to peel and although it possible to eat the flowers once they start to bloom the leaves become bitter and not nearly so nice.
As with any wild plant or berry you plan to eat it pays to be vigilant, wild garlic looks a little similar to the toxic Lily of the Valley but crushing the leaves to release the distinct aroma from is a sure fire way to tell you are picking the right thing.
The morning over, a good hike in the woods and after a mere 15 minutes of picking we headed back home with a bag full of greenery to turn our foraged food into a healthy lunch, a wild garlic and potato soup. Now there are many ways you can use wild garlic in cooking from pestos to a replacement for spinach but our favourite is this flavoursome light meal, simple, nutritious and very very tasty.
Wild Garlic And Potato Soup
- 1x large white onion,
- 1x medium leek
- 1x stick of celery
- 50 grams of butter
- 700grams of potatos – peeled and chopped
- 1.2 ltr of good quality vegetable or chicken stock
- half a bag of wild garlic leaves
- salt and Pepper to taste
- cream or creme fraiche to finish.
In a large pan melt butter, add the chopped onion, leek and celery. Saute for about 1o minutes or until the onion is soft. Whilst onion mix is cooking rinse garlic leaves and remove stalks. Add the chopped potatoes and stock to the cooked onions and leeks, simmer for approx 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Add the wild garlic, salt and pepper and simmer for 2 more minutes until the leaves are wilted. Liquidise soup with a hand blender. Serve with a small dollop of cream or creme fraiche.
Guest Blog by One Girl And Her Camera