Wild Garlic

16th April 2013

A walk this weekend to some damp shady woods where you know Bluebells to grow could find the ground covered in a dense carpet of the lush green leaves of Wild Garlic or Ramsoms Allium ursinum. Appearing early to mid March till the beginning of June there is every chance that you will have smelt the Wild Garlic before you see it and when you do you are looking for bright green, broad, spear shaped leaves growing in clumps on the woodland floor.



The leaves can have a resemblance to the poisonous Lilly-of-the-valley and a sure method of identifying Wild Garlic is to crush a leaf between your fingers and the unmistakable smell of garlic will confirm its identity.

Unlike the domestic garlic bulb, Wild Garlic is harvested from the stem up with the stem, leaves and flowers all being edible. The young leaves are the strongest tasting and the flavour slowly decreases as the leaves get larger and the flowers have a very delicate flavour.

With the landowners permission and with a view not to strip an area the best way to harvest Wild Garlic is to grasp a clump of garlic near the ground and with a sharp knife cut the stems close to the leaf litter on the floor. A little goes a long way so there is no need to collect huge amounts of wild Garlic and a large handful is normally sufficient for most needs.

There are many uses for Wild Garlic from using the young leaves and stems chopped and used as an alternative to Spring onion or Chives or mixed with rice to give a fantastic flavour and interesting fleck of colour. The flowers can be added to salads, used in soups or made into fritters.

A great way to keep the flavour of this time of year is to make a Wild Garlic pesto, here is a simple recipe that can be made with a pestle and mortar if you don’t own a food processor.


250g Wild Garlic (Washed)
100g finely crushed walnuts
150g grated Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil to mix
Salt and Pepper to taste



Whiz in a processor or crush the Wild Garlic in a pestle and mortar to a coarse paste and gradually add Olive oil to loosen the mix and it turns to a light green colour.

Add the finely crushed Walnuts and grated Parmesan cheese and mix together adding more Olive oil till a silky texture is reached.

Add Salt and Pepper to taste and add lemon juice to give a little zing if required.

The Olive oil will preserve your Pesto and it will last for several months in the fridge, but I warn you, you will find all sorts of things that require a touch of “Wild Garlic Pesto”


Neil Isaacs

Apprentice Instructor

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