Some people love garlic, whilst others aren't so keen - but have you tried wild garlic? Can't say I have, but as it's in season at the moment why not give a thought to some wild garlic picking this weekend ... weather permitting of course!
What is wild garlic?
Pretty self-explanatory, really. It's a leafy, green plant that grows in the wild, and its leaves have a garlic-like taste. It's actually pretty close to the flavour of chives or spring onions, as it's a little more delicate than a regular bulb of garlic. It's also known as ramsons, buckrams, bear's leek (the bears love it too, apparently) and Stinking Jenny, which seems a little unfair to people called Jenny.
What does it look like?
It's got long, deep green leaves a few centimeters in width and often sprouts with little white petaled flowers. You'll see it popping up from March until about June.
Where can I find it?
All over the UK, but it's best to go hunting for it in old woodland or alongside rivers. Look for bluebells, as it's usually found growing alongside them. Rub the leaves in-between your fingers to make sure it's got that garlicky scent. Wild garlic also has individual green stems – if it has a single purple stem, it's Lily of The Valley, and you really don't want to eat that. Or, if you live in a concrete jungle, you might want to just buy it from a shop instead. We can't all be Bear Grylls, after all.
How do I store it?
Put it in a glass of water – it'll last a bit longer after it's been picked.
How can I use it?
It can be used raw as a herb or in a salad, or gently steamed like leafy veg. They use it in Cornwall to coat the rind of some Cornish Yarg. Meanwhile, over in Turkey, they use it in herbed cheese. Also: eat the flowers. Yeah, they look pretty as a garnish, but they're also very lightly scented with that fresh garlic tang. And don't worry, wild garlic won't leave your breath smelling too pungent either – you get all the goodness of garlic, without the stinky after taste."
10g parsley, chopped
25g pine nuts, lightly toasted
20g Parmesan, finely grated
3-4 tablespoons good olive oil
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice, optional
You can do this in a mortar with a pestle or a small food processor. Whizz or pound the wild garlic, parsley, pine nuts, Parmesan and olive oil. Don’t process too much as it is nice to have a bit of texture to the pesto. Add a good pinch of salt and some pepper, taste and adjust any seasonings to taste. You may like to add a squeeze of lemon juice just before serving, this amount would be enough pesto for 4.