Wild Garlic, Ramsons, Bear’s Garlic, Wood Garlic, Ramps – these are all names for the edible garlic that grows in deciduous woodland and hedgerows.Wild garlic is often seen growing in large amounts all over the UK, and in most European countries.
The leaves have a pungent garlic aroma and taste, and it is the leaves that are foraged, rather than the bulbs. The bulbs are edible, but they are small. The leaves have enough garlic power in them, so there is no need to eat the bulb and the plant can grow again.
Wild garlic grows in early spring and flowers in June. The flowers are also edible and make an interesting addition to salads and garnishes.
What does Wild Garlic look like?
The leaves of wild garlic are long and spear shaped, and they grow from a single stem. The flowers are white and have six petals, and a few grow together to form a small cluster.
The scent is garlicky. When picking wild garlic, to be absolutely sure you are foraging for the right plant, rub the leaves in your hand and the scent of garlic and onions will be quite strong.
There are some poisonous plants that look a little similar to wild garlic. Lily of the Valley has long leaves and small white flowers, although the flowers are small and bell shaped. There are also plants such as Dog’s Mercury and Lords and Ladies, which are often found growing amongst wild garlic.
Make sure you use your sense of smell when picking wild garlic. If the leaves don’t have that that oniony smell, then it won’t be wild garlic. As with any foraging, if in doubt, leave it out!
Eating and Storing Wild Garlic
The leaves keep well in a fridge, and will be good for a week.
Chop the wild garlic leaves and add them to a variety of dishes, from omelettes to stir fry. The flavour does diminish with cooking, so add them at the end for a fresh, garlic taste.
One good way of eating wild garlic is to make a tasty pesto to enjoy with pasta, stir into soup or eat just as a garlicky dip.