The season for Wild Garlic (or Ramsons as some call it) is coming to an end. Those of you who love it need to get preserving. We have a couple of great ideas here that will preserve the flavour for use throughout the coming year. Below are some tips on where to find it growing, identification notes, the preserves themselves and some photos from the last Saturdays 1 day foraging course.
Where to find it
It loves damp wooded valleys with a stream in the bottom! I know this is very specific, but if you find that habitat you will most likely find your plant. Other places to find it are hedge banks, woodland edges and generally in open woodland.
All parts of the plant smell of garlic when crushed. This is your definitive identifying feature. The smooth, green leaves taper at both ends. They grow straight out of the ground on a pale green stem. The white starlike flowers have three seeds in the centre which swell as the leaves die off.
Pickled Wild garlic seeds
Gather the wild garlic seeds when they are large and green (as the photo above) Remove any stalks and wash them. Drain in a sieve and dry with a tea towel. Now heat some white wine vinegar in a pan until boiling, throw in the seeds and bring back to the boil. Allow the liquid to cool for a couple of minutes and pour in to jars. Put the lids on the jars when they are cool enough to handle.
These delicious seeds can be used to flavour sauces, to add to pickled fish dishes, made into a tartare sauce, served with smoked fish platters or to go with cured meats and olives. These are just a few ideas, think of them as a garlicky caper and let your imagination run wild.
Wild Garlic powder
For this preserve you need a large carrier bag full of leaves. Try to pick from a large area taking a few from lots of different places. This way no-one will notice that you have been there and you are foraging truly sustainably.
Wash and dry the leaves and chop off the stems (you can use these in a stir fry or similar). Now lay the leaves on the shelves of the oven with a large baking tray on the bottom to catch any bits. Put the oven on at a low heat 80-100 degrees C with the door open a crack. In our fan oven the leaves dry in about an hour. Periodically check the leaves and move them round if there are wet and dry patches. Once the leaves are bone dry put them in a pestle and mortar or a food processor with a sprinkling of sea salt flakes. Grind or blitz them until you have a powder and then store it in an airtight container. This powder is incredibly versatile is a perfect way to have delicious wild garlic flavour all year round..
1 day foraging course 1st June 2013
As well as learning over 30 wild edible plants the group prepared and smoked trout, made pitta breads and enjoyed a wild garlic risotto. Thank you all for coming – happy foraging.