|Wild Garlic poking through soil & leaf mulch|
Gentle ambling and careful observation will enable you to focus & zone in. Look in warmer, sunnier, sheltered locations for signs of early growth. You'll find some patches are in a more advanced state of growth, whereas others are just poking through the soil.
Once in full swing this plant carpets woodland floors, streams & riverbanks, greening with it's beautifully soft, shiny, smooth oval leaves & scenting the air with it's powerful fragrance - to the unwary & unobservant eye, this is the way it first makes it's presence known, via the olfactory. Just about everyone in the UK will have a location within 10 minutes walk or drive where WG grows. Take care if you've never picked it before, there are a couple of toxic plants that tend to grow with or alongside WG and these are Lily of the Valley and Arum Lily (Lords & Ladies). Lily of the Valley bears a striking resemblance, Arum Lily does too but only when first emerging (once its leaves fully open there is no mistaking); if the plant you pick doesn't hum of garlic then it's not wild garlic! Exercise mindful harvesting when picking WG, don't just grab & tear handfuls and throw them hotch-potch into your bag or container (this is when you could inadvertently pick the toxic ones alongside), take your time, be selective and gentle. If in any doubt and as earlier mentioned, the unmistakable aroma of garlic will help guide you and if I remember correctly there are no garlic smelling plants that are toxic.
do so as soon as the flower petals have dropped off, too late in the
season and they become rock hard.
|Ramson Fruits. Seeds within|
|Bulbs exposed by flooding|
Bulbs: Approx 2cm - 6cm long, cylindrical - often fatter middle 3rd, pale white/dirty yellow in colour
Leaves: Oval, mid to deep green in colour, smooth, shiny appearance, sweet pungent garlic aroma when crushed. Can grow up to 30cm in length (I have some images of some huge leaves I picked last year but images belong to Walter Lewis and I need permission before using. I hope to add image at later date)
Flower Pods: Cylindrical when young becoming more 'rugby ball' shaped when approaching flowering time. Outer skin is smooth and 'tacky' to the touch, becoming drier and more papery like prior to flowers emerging.
Flowers: White, star like, 5/6 petals, multiple flowers per spike (see image further up article on right)
Fruits: Triple-capsule, each capsule contains a dark brown seed (see image further up article on right)
Edibility & Uses: All parts are edible and delicious. Remember though, it's illegal to dig up bulbs without land owners permission. Recipes at the foot of this page.
One of my favourite ways of preserving Ramson is via the process of lacto-fermentation. Lacto-fermentation is an ancient technique and is one of the simplest there is and the results are truly spectacular; link to article on how to ferment is at the foot of this post.
|Pickled Wild Garlic Bulbs|
Leaves are excellent raw, slice fine and add to mixed wild salads or use to garnish other dishes. Cooked they tend to lose their flavour a touch but certainly not to the detriment of the dish. Lacto-fermented Wild Garlic is possibly my favourite way of preserving the leaves. Pesto is popular, as is Wild Garlic in oil (recipe at foot of article). In fact the leaves can be added to just about any dish you can imagine (I've never put them with sweet dishes though, hmm...you never know!)
Flower pods are fantastic pickled (see recipe at foot of article), reminiscent of pickled onions, great in salads and added chopped to a wild tartar sauce. Again very versatile, play about and have fun.
Flowers are delicious raw, with a real hot garlicky twang to them, scatter on salads, add to sandwiches.
Fruits also pickle well but do preserve before they become too hard to eat, scatter in salads, great accompaniment to cheeses and meats.
|Bulbs & Shoots ready for pickling & lacto-fermenting|
|Dish incorporating fermented Ramsons|
Wild Garlic & Pheasant Dolmades: https://edible-leeds.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/pheasant-and-wild-garlic-dolmades.html
Wild Garlic Soup: http://edible-leeds.blogspot.co.uk/p/recipes_11.html
Sweet Pickled Ramson Flower Pods/Bulbs/Fruits: http://edible-leeds.blogspot.co.uk/p/recipes-pickling.html