A versatile and pungent plant, wild garlic is one of those wonderful free foods that is not only fun to forage for due to the time of year it is abundant but is also super easy to cook with being a really lovely replacement for conventional shop bought garlic.
So, where to begin?
Late spring is the perfect time to go foraging for wild garlic. It has already started sprouting in our woodlands here at Coombe Farm.
A few facts to get you started. The plant is native to Britain, and is sometimes known as:
bear leek, bear’s garlic, broad-leaved garlic, ramsons or wood garlic. At its peak of growth is stands around 50cm.
As you might expect of the allium family (which includes garlic, leeks, onions etc), the flavour is a delightful combo of both garlic and spring onion. With a pungent flavour hotter than that of conventional garlic.
Both the leaves and the flowers are edible. The leaves usually appear in March and the flowers in to April and May, however, this year the leaves have emerged earlier and we already have some substantial shoots on oat Coombe Farm.
There are a couple of potential traps when it comes to identification. Lilly of the Valley, Autumn Crocus, daffodils, snowdrops and Lords and Ladies have similar leaves in the early stages of growth. All of these are toxic but none have the distinct scent of garlic, so make sure you give them a good sniff whilst foraging to be sure, or, leave the young shoot foraging to the experts and wait until April and May to pick your, once they have flowered their distinctive white blooms.