Renowned wild food forager James Wood takes a look at wild garlic, where to find it and how to cook with it. Photography: Totally Wild UK
The cold grasp of winter is finally coming to an end and I can’t wait to get stuck in to spring’s bounty of fresh edible shoots, flowers and fungi. Through the year we will be taking a look at the range of amazing flaura and fauna that supply us with super healthy, fresh, local and truly seasonal food, even better it’s all free. All you need, is to know what you’re looking for and where to find it, and I’m here to help.
Through March and April wild garlic is out in force, on nearly every walk I take I will find mounds of the stuff. There are numerous spots up the River Hodder where this damp woodland loving plant can be found in abundance.
The distinctive garlic smell makes it easy to identify, the abundance of its growth makes it easy to harvest and the superb flavour means it can suit almost every savoury meal.
Wild garlic (Allium ursinum)
Wild garlic goes into leaf from as early as February, but for us up north we’re looking at mid-March. Its leaves are spear shaped with a pointed tip, and can range from five to 15cms in length and three to six cms wide.
Each plant has one single flower head that looks like a white pompom sat on top of a pole growing from the centre of its rosette of leaves.
The root resembles a small but elongated clove of garlic.
WILD GARLIC AND CHEESE SCONES
These scones are a staple in my household and can be baked and frozen for use later in the year, serve them with pasta, chilli, pies and casseroles. We often eat them warm with a good knob of our homemade seaweed butter, but real butter will work well also!
Ingredients (8 Scones):
250g plain flour
75g unsalted butter, small chunks
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
50g mature cheese, grated
15-20 young wild garlic leaves and stems, finely chopped
Place the flour into a large bowl and add the butter. Rub the flour into the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the salt, baking powder, grated cheese, chopped wild garlic leaves and mix.
Make a well in the middle and add the milk, a little at a time, mix with your hands or a large spoon.
Remove and form it into a ball in your hands, then flatten the dough into a thick round on a floured surface and cut into eight wedges. Place on a lined baking tray.
Bake in the middle of a pre-heated oven, 180 C, for 15 to 20 minutes until risen and lightly browned.
Enjoy with your favourite soup or pasta dish.
James Wood is a renowned wild food forager, running wild food cookery and foraging courses throughout England. His book ‘The Foragers’ Cookbook’ is now available through Amazon.