Wild garlic season: tips and a recipe

Wild garlic is a super little treat for the beginning of spring.

If you can, track it down before it flowers as it’s a little brighter and less bitter on the palate. Wild garlic leaves are great put straight into a cheese sandwich, or indeed just rolled around cheese.

Wild garlic ‘pesto’ is a wonderful way to eat this stuff. First, pick your garlic. Shaded woodland, where you might have seen snowdrops and would anticipate seeing bluebells, is a good place to start.

Late February is the very earliest you’ll find it. By late May it’s all over. In the Midlands, early April is prime time (the flowers are edible and very pretty too, just pop them on top of a salad).

No matter how hard you try, you will pick up a few slugs, spiders and creepy crawlies while gathering. Washing your harvest will take much longer then picking it, so don’t get too carried away.

Wild garlic pesto

* Carrier bag full of wild garlic leaves
* Walnuts, not that many
* Rocket and/or a little basil (optional)
* Parmesan
* Olive oil, quite a bit
* Lemon juice
* Salt and pepper

1 Blitz it all together, tasting all the time. It will take more oil than you think, at least as much as the weight of garlic (and rocket if used), and probably half as much again. Taste, adjust, taste, adjust.

2 Jar it up in sterile jars, with a liberal spurt of oil on the top. It’ll easily keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, probably longer (I’ve had it last a year, but that is slightly extreme). Use it just as you would ordinary pesto. It is poky stuff and to be used with some caution until you have the measure of it.

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Rutland-based Matt Gregory is a passionate fisherman and forager who can often be found bidding at Melton Mowbray Market’s fur and feather auctions, or casting flies into Rutland Water.