Wild Spring Ramsons Garlic
The Benefit of a Delicious Herb
Wild garlic (Allium ursinum, also called Ramsons) is an edible, delicious early spring herb. It grows in old woods mostly in moist places with a decent shade. Wild garlic is considered a vulnerable spieces worldwide yet you can collect it for personal use. In most places overpicking for commercial purposes is strictly forbidden. This delicious herb is amazing for use in the kitchen, both fresh or pickled in salt or olive oil.
Growing wild garlic at home
You can find the wild garlic in nature, however you can also grow it at home. I’ve been growing several things at home, from herbs to fruit trees to vegetables such as garden peas or potatoes. Wild garlic is another lovely plant to try – you can learn more interesting facts about it’s history and even medicinal benefits at Eatweeds by Robin Hartford and also Wild Food UK. To grow the garlic at home from garlic bulbs. Plant the bulbs in lightly accidic and moist soil with some shade around October to give the plant chance to adapt and begin to merge for the coming spring.
Picking wild garlic
The best way to pick ramsons is by cutting the leaves with scissors, just a few leaves from each plant. Never rip the leaves by hand to avoid pulling the blbs out of the ground. This is to make sure that the herb can continue to grow in the same place. In addition, avoid cutting the white custered flowers on a long stalk which eventually turn into seeds and help the herb to reproduce.
Recently, we’ve visited an amazing large forest, a natural habitat filled with beavers and various kinds of field flowers. And surrounded by tall trees and clean river there we found beautiful ‘carpets’ of wild garlic leaves. They are best harvested in April/May so we picked some to use in different recipes. The delicate flavour of ramsons fresh leaves can be used raw in fresh salads, it’s amazng for meat marinades or fish coating. It’s also delicious lightly cooked with pasta, added chopped into spreads or mixed with butter and baked with bakery. Wild garlic also makes an amazing pesto.
If you decide to go for a relaxing walk to pick the wild garlic, be aware that it can easily be mistaken for certain toxic plants such as lily of the valley, lords and ladies or autumn crocus. Make sure you know how the ramsons looks to ensure you don’t eat another herb looking similar.
How to preserve wild garlic
Wild garlic is best used raw and fresh. It has the typical ‘garlic-ky’ flavour and scent, however it is much softer than typical garlic bulbs. However, if you can’t eat the garlic right away you may want to try preserving it in salt. The garlic will last and you can use it repeatedly in your dishes, a spoon at the time!
Ramsons garlic leaves in salt
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
- 2 cups of fresh garlic leaves
- 1 tbl spoons of himalayan salt (the salt should be added per 1:5 ratio – one of salt per five of the garlic leaves)
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- glass jar with a lid
After picking the wild garlic leaves, wash them thoroughly in clean water. Then chop the leaves finely and mix with the salt before adding the mixture into the glass far. Once finished, pour the oil over the mixture – this step is optional. You can also leave the garlic preserved in salt only. Close the lid thoroughly and keep in a cool place. If you’ve decided to add the oil, let the garlic leaves marinade even for several months.
Keep in mind that the mixture is very salty – you may want to avoid adding any more salt to the your dishes.
Wild garlic pesto
Another delicious way to use the wild garlic is making a pesto. Pesto is a delicious paste made of fresh herb leaves, nuts and parmesan cheese and delicious added to warm pasta or gnocchi and also cold salads. As already mentioned, the taste of this herb is much more delicate which makes it an ideal additive to many dishes!
Preparation time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 cup of nuts (these can be the typical roasted pine nuts but also almonds, cashew nuts or even walnuts)
- 2 cups of fresh leaves
- 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- lemon juice from 1/2 of fresh lemon
- a pinch of salt (not if you use the preserved wild garlic mixture already salted)
- 1 finely grated garlic clove (this is only optional if you prefer your pesto to really have the garlic taste)
Firstly, roast the nuts briefly on a dry pan stirring them frequently to make sure they don’t burn. Then add the nuts into a blender and add all the rest of the ingredients except for oil. Blend the mixture thoroughly and then add the olive oil slowly until the mixture becomes a smooth semi-thick paste. Use the pesto immediately, alternatively you can store it in a glass jar in the fridge.