22

Driving into work this am, the woods were full of wild garlic, you could actually smell it in the car.

enter image description here

I've always presumed that it is edible but I'm not 100% sure. Can you eat wild garlic?

Which parts are edible? Does it have bulbs like the garlic you buy in the shops? How do I go about collecting, using, preparing it? Any recipes?!


Wikipedia says:

The leaves of A. ursinum are edible; they can be used as salad, herb,[7] boiled as a vegetable,[8] in soup, or as an ingredient for pesto in lieu of basil. The stems are preserved by salting and eaten as a salad in Russia. A variety of Cornish Yarg cheese has a rind coated in wild garlic leaves.[9] The bulbs and flowers are also edible.

Which is great, but I'm not sure I trust wikipedia! Does anyone have any experience of eating/preparing these?

  • 1
    Wikipedia says there is a whole bunch of plants known as wild garlic. Is it possible to narrow your question down a bit to one or two of them? – Benedikt Bauer May 29 '15 at 7:57
  • 3
    Picking Allium ursinum is illegal in my country. – reinierpost May 29 '15 at 11:08
  • 1
    Protected species. – reinierpost May 29 '15 at 13:10
  • 2
    As a native Russian, I can confirm that salted or pickled wild garlic stems are indeed very popular and widely used as an appetizer or sort of antipasto. – mustaccio May 29 '15 at 20:25
  • 1
    "How to prepare" would be a great question for Seasoned Advice. – Jolenealaska May 31 '15 at 3:40
30

Here in Slovenia, the use of wild garlic is quite widespread. Although the whole plant, including bulbs, is edible, leaves are most commonly used.

I tried only leaves so far, so I can share my experience with only them.

Gathering

Young, light-green leaves are a bit more aromatic, but smaller; older are darker and larger. I pick a mix of both and look for undamaged, clean leaves. (I found very few with a bit chewed out by some animal; sometimes there are some webs on the bottom side, maybe spiders, not sure. It's no problem removing them, but if a leave is already "settled" I like to leave it intact.) I pick a leaf with the stem, somewhere at the middle.

Leaves of lily-of-the-valley are similar to wild garlic and are poisonous. To confirm that a leaf is wild garlic, I do the following:

  • smell the leaf (must be like garlic),
  • look at the underside of the leaf (a bit lighter than the top),
  • each leaf grows from the ground on its own stem, whereas lily-of-the-valley grows several leaves from one stem (seen here),
  • lily-of-the-valley has pronounced lines on the underside (also seen in the linked image above).

A good handful should be enough for one person for a risotto. I put it in a paper bag and it stores well several days in the fridge, but it's best used fresh to keep the most aroma.

Use

Wild garlic can be used raw in salads or more commonly to add flavor to soups, risottos, etc. It can be made into a pesto for later use.

Rinse leaves before use. Chop them to your liking and add them towards the end of your dish so it retains more flavor. You can also sauté it on olive oil or butter beforehand for a minute.

Edit: Added two recipes

Wild garlic risotto

Boil risotto rice (half to one cup per person) with just enough water that it's mostly gone when the rice is done (commonly around 1 unit rice, 2 units water). Melt butter in a pan and sauté chopped wild garlic (30-40g) and 2-3 cloves garlic for a minute, add cooking cream, season to taste (nutmeg makes a good seasoning here). Pour this into the risotto a few minutes before it's done, mix well, cook until the rice is done.

Wild garlic pesto

Chop 250g wild garlic, 10 garlic cloves, 200g sunflower seeds (or pine nuts), mix with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. You can blend it all in a blender for a finer paste. Fill into a jar and top with olive oil.

To continue adventuring with recipes, try google-translating for "čemaž recepti" (Slovene for wild garlic recipes).

  • Great answer, thanks very much! Recipes would be very much appreciated if you find the time! – user2766 May 29 '15 at 10:25
  • 1
    @Liam consider asking here if you want recepies – user2813274 May 29 '15 at 15:45
  • 1
    @user2813274 No, recipe requests are not on topic for the cooking stack exchange. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas May 29 '15 at 16:17
  • I added two recipes as promised earlier, hoping it's not against site policy. – Primoz May 30 '15 at 9:23
  • @Liam, if you google for 'Bärlauch' recipies (German name) you'll find plenty, as its actually quite commonly used in Switzerland during Spring. Also the Wild garlic pesto above sounds pretty much what I have been doing in the past, can highly recommend trying that out. – fgysin Apr 24 '18 at 5:58
6

Wild garlic is perfectly edible.

My usual ways of cooking it are either to eat it raw (after washing) as a salad leaf, or to saute it like spinach (and it will reduce by a similar amount). It can either be cooked on its own, or mixed with spinach.

The only caveat I have is that some people find that eating a lot (2 x similar portion of spinach) may have a slightly laxative effect.

5

Wikipedia is basically right – you can safely eat it (according to the German Wikipedia article the whole plant, however, the leaves are the most used part) and here in Germany they sometimes even sell the leaves in the supermarket.

The typical use I know of is the one that is given in the cited Wikipedia text you gave, i.e. adding the leaves to a salad or making some pesto from them. Cooking them is also possible however, as the article on the German Wikipedia also states, the flavour will be way less intense then.

There is a risk of mistaking the leaves of the wild garlic with the poisonous Lily of the Valley, however this can be mitigated by rubbing the leaves between your fingers – wild garlic leaves will have the typical garlic smell, lily of the valley won't.

  • Interesting it's sold in supermarkets! I've never seen it sold anywhere here. The woods around my house are overflowing with the stuff at the moment so I'm considering harvesting some! Thanks for the advice. – user2766 May 29 '15 at 8:31
  • (In Germany) I have some plants in the garden, under the fruit trees, as they are supposed to discourage pests. You can use it as a substutute for garlic. Also I bought a jar of dried leaves for putting in salad sauce i winter. if I were better organised I could dry my own. – RedSonja Dec 8 '15 at 14:31
4

Wild garlic is very definitely edible and quite delicious! I eat all parts of it (leaves, stems and flowers) but usually only when it is young (before the flowers are fully out). I think it is delicious wilted in a frying pan with some butter or olive oil (like spinach). I've also used it to make pesto (in place of basil).

Don't be put off by the possibility of mistaking for lily-of-the-valley, it is very easy to distinguish between the two plants as others have described - the leaves of the lily are more leathery/less delicate.

Also, I have tasted lily-of-the-valley! It takes very little of it to give you a really nasty burning sensation in your mouth (that leaves you wanting to spit for a long time afterwards) - so you'll know very quickly if you have made a mistake.

4

Yes it is and tasty too. There are some good recipes at the riverford.co.uk recipe pages. I've cooked most of the recipes on that page, I particularly like the Wet & Wild Garlic Risotto and Spring green & Parmesan Tart.

I've never tried eating the flowers though I've also read they were edible. I also didn't know that some Yarg was wrapped in wild garlic, I thought it was always wrapped in nettles.

3

I've just been sent this article in the Telegraph about it

It says:

At this time of year (May) the flowers (a nice edible addition to a plate) are also a giveaway: delicate, thin, six white-petalled things forming into rough globes that look like exploding fireworks. The true test of wild garlic however is the scent. Usually you will smell it before you see it. It perfumes the woods. So follow your nose and break a leaf to check. It will remind you of a powerful spring onion.

Chose plants in sites that are, ideally, on a slope - these are less likely to have had any human or animal traffic – and pick healthy leaves from far down towards the ground, keeping the stems long. This will be useful if storing the garlic as you can pop it in a pint glass filled up with water and it should last three or four days without losing any freshness. Stick your haul in your jacket (if you don’t mind the lingering scent) or double-up a plastic bag or water bottle. Once home, wash it thoroughly under a tap or in a few changes of fresh water.

3

They are popular in Denmark as well.

My favorite use is pickling the non-flowered flower buds - for this, one has to pick the flower buds right before they open - then pickle them, like you would a cucumber..

To answer the comment below: I would pickle the flower buds (and a cucumber) in order to preserve it, for use outside of its rather narrow season.

  • Why would you pickle a cucumber?! :) – user2766 Apr 24 '18 at 8:11
2

Use it to make vegetable lasagna. I'm right now combining the leaves and flowers (from my garden) with sorrel (also from my garden), and spinach, with seasoned ricotta and extra garlic. Wilt and chop all the green stuff first, before mixing with ricotta. Interleave layers of this mix, lasagna sheets, and rich tomato sauce, top it with bechamel and parmesan. Delicious!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy