Smell that? That light waft of garlic on the wind can only mean one thing, wild garlic season is well and truly upon us!
Running from April until June roughly, depending on the weather conditions, you only need to take a walk amongst the Island’s shady woodlands to find wild garlic – Allium Ursinum to give it it’s Latin name, but it’s also known as ramsons. It can be identified by its distinctive smell, long pointed leaves and white flowers and although the leaves are the most commonly used, the white stems, bulbs, and flowers are also edible.
It’s one of our favourite things to forage for, just remember to pick garlic away from the edge of the footpath (where dogs can wee on it) and always brush off any soil and wash well in cold water before eating. When eaten raw, the green leaves have a fresh, slightly peppery, garlic punch, but cooking them mellows out the flavour. Simply blanch or wilt in boiling water for 30–60 seconds as you would with spinach. It shrinks down a lot after cooking, so make sure you have plenty to hand.
If you’ve been keeping an eagle eye on our Insta stories, you’ll no doubt have seen our recipe for wild garlic pesto a couple of weeks ago (don’t panic, if you missed it, you can find it here too). The uses of this versatile wild relative of onion don’t end there though, as it can essentially be used to replace regular garlic in any recipe.
Here are a few quick suggestions, but you’ll find our recipe for delicious wild garlic and potato soup below.
- Wild garlic butter – simply mash finely chopped wild garlic leave and stems into salted butter and use to make delicious garlic bread or melted into mashed potatoes
- Wild garlic risotto – add the chopped bulbs and white stems to the onions when you’re starting your risotto and add the chopped green leaves to wilt just before serving.
- Wild garlic and cheese scones – add some fresh flavour to your baking and give this recipe from the National Trust a whirl
- Pasta with wild garlic pesto – try our recipe here
- Chicken stuffed with mushrooms and wild garlic – add some wild garlic to some chopped sauteed mushrooms and use to stuff a chicken breast. Wrap the chicken in parma ham and roast in the oven.
So what are you waiting for? Use your daily exercise time to discover what’s on your doorstep and get foraging – you’re be living your best lockdown life in no time!
Don’t forget to forage responsibly – only pick what you need and always take care when foraging your own ingredients, if you aren’t sure, leave it there (as there have been cases of people mistaking poisonous plants such as Lily of the Valley for wild garlic).
Wild Garlic and Potato Soup
- 2 tbsp oil or butter for frying – we recommend Oil of Wight (Briddlesford or Isle of Wight butter for the most local flavour)
- 1 chopped onion
- 600 g potatoes (peeled and diced)
- 1.2 litres veg stock
- 50 g wild garlic leaves (shredded)
- Briddlesford double cream (to taste (clotted cream, crème fraîche or soft cheese also work well))
- Wild garlic flowers (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and white stems of the wild garlic and fry on a low heat for approximately 10 minutes, until softened and slightly transparent but without colouring.
- Add the potatoes and stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
- Add the wild garlic leaves, reserving a few shreds for garnishing the soup. Add a generous glug of double cream (or a couple of tablespoons of crème fraîche, clotted cream or soft cheese).
- Blitz the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, with flecks of wild garlic leaves. Return to the pan and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with an additional swirl of crème fraîche or double cream, a few shreds of wild garlic and a few wild garlic flowers, if you have them.