‘Do you realise your front garden is full of wild garlic?’ my friend Maria asked as I answered the front door to her last week.
She pointed to a bunch growing near the front door. ‘Try some.’
Wild Garlic in My Front Garden
I’m ashamed to admit I had no idea the bunches of delicate white star-like blossoms that appeared to have taken over the front garden were wild garlic. I thought they were pretty looking weeds that would have to be gotten rid of at some point.
I’ve always liked the idea of foraging for food in the wild but even better if I can forage in my own front garden. I rubbed the leaves between my fingers first and immediately caught a gentle scent of garlic.
‘You can eat the flowers too,’ Maria assured me, so I snipped off a few stems and popped them into my mouth, flowers included.
The taste was exquisite. Like sweet spring onions and chives and the mildest taste of garlic all rolled into one. I was immediately imagining cheese and wild garlic sandwiches, salads and pasta sprinkled with wild garlic.
What a discovery. Anyone who knows me and has eaten chez moi knows that I love and adore garlic. You need only take a look at my Beetroot and Garlic Salad Recipe to know where I’m coming from.
Let’s just say that to love me is to love garlic in all its various forms; raw, stir-fried, roasted and mashed and to ignore the pungent garlic breath that results.
But the taste of ordinary garlic can be quite overpowering, especially when eaten raw, so I was thrilled to be able to enjoy the flavour and smell of garlic in a much milder form.
Since then I’ve been curious to find out more about wild garlic and its uses in herbal medicine and recipes.
How to Identify Wild Garlic
The most common form of Wild Garlic (Allium Ursinum) is also known as Ramsons, Wood Garlic, Devil’s Posy, Onion Flower, Stinkplant and Bear’s Garlic. It grows wild throughout Britain and Europe, particularly in damp woods and on the banks of streams, and flowers between April and June. You can usually identify it by its wonderful garlicky scent and it has broad elliptical leaves.
Medicinal Uses of Wild Garlic
- Like ordinary garlic, wild garlic also helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels and treat high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis
- Wild garlic is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and is used to treat yeast-related infections and normalise gut flora.
Consulting my copy of The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses I think the variety I have in my garden is more likely to be Allium Tuberosum otherwise known as Chinese Chives, Cuchay and Garlic Chives as they have longer, thinner leaves which are keeled or ridged.
Medicinal Uses of Garlic Chives
- Garlic Chives improve kidney function and are used to treat urinary incontinence, kidney and bladder weakness
- The seeds can be used to treat nausea and vomiting
- The leaves can be made into a poultice together with Gardenia Augusta and used to treat knee injuries.
Culinary Uses of Wild Garlic and Garlic Chives
It’s been wonderful going out into the front garden and chopping a bunch of garlic chives to add zest to a meal. Here are a few ways you can use wild garlic and garlic chives in the kitchen:
# Flavour olive oil by soaking wild garlic leaves in it
# Use as a substitute for garlic or spring onions in salads
# Make wild garlic pesto with wild garlic leaves, sea salt, pine nut kernels, freshly grated Parmesan, black pepper and olive oil
# Add to tomato sauces in place of basil
# Make cheese and wild garlic sandwiches for lunch
# Use as a garnish on savoury dishes and soups
# Add to an omelette.
It’s best to add wild garlic towards the end of cooking to preserve its freshness, or even better, eat it raw. And remember, you can eat the flowers too, so add them as a garnish and ingredient to salads.
Wild garlic is a perennial, so once it has finished flowering in June it will die down and wait to reappear next spring.
Which means there isn’t much time left to make the most of this year’s crop. So, get out into the woods and start foraging.
I’ll be in my front garden.