If you don your wellies for a tramp through the woods today, you’re likely to come across swathes of lush green leaves starred with delicate white flowers. Before you trip over them, though, you’ll be alerted to their presence by a strong garlicky smell.
Wild garlic, also known as Bears Garlic, Ramsons or Ramps, is currently enjoying its moment in the sun. It has a very short season, so if you love its mellow garlic taste you’ll need to be quick. Blink, and it’ll be gone.
Once you have your carrier bag (or, if you’re greedy like me, bin bag) full of pungent leaves, what do you do with it? Storing it is a problem, since, like most green vegetables, it won’t keep for long, even in the fridge. You can freeze it, but comes out looking like smelly cooked spinach. So, before you go down that road, how about trying these ideas?
1 Wild Garlic Pesto
Classic pesto is made thus:
- 50g/2 oz basil
- 30g/1 oz pine nuts, toasted
- 30g/1 oz parmesan, or similar vegetarian hard cheese, freshly grated
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 85ml/3fl oz olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
You can add fresh lemon juice for an extra zing,
Pesto is dead easy to make. For Wild Garlic Pesto, substitute 50% of the basil you would normally use in your recipe with Ramps, and omit the regular garlic. Put everything but the oil in a food processor and blitz. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil through the feed tube. Job’s a good ‘un. Pop it in a jar and top it with a thin layer of olive oil to help preserve it. Store in the fridge.
2 Wild Garlic Oil
- 100g Wild Garlic
- 500ml flavourless vegetable oil
Blanch the Ramson leaves. Shock them in ice water to preserve their colour. Chop into 1 inch pieces and add to a food processor. Add your flavourless oil (rapeseed, sunflower) and blizt in your food processor until the oil is a bright green colour. Sieve, then strain through muslin or a coffee filter to get clear, green Wild Garlic Oil. Use for salad dressings, mayonnaise and other yummy culinary inventions.
- 50 g butter
- 100 g onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 200 g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 300 ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 bunch of fresh wild garlic
- 2 tbsp double cream
1 melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and potatoes, lightly frying, then season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 10 minutes.
2. Add the stock bit by bit to the potato and onion mixture so that it combines well with the mixture.
3.Once all the stock has been added bring the pan to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until the potatoes and onions are tender. Stir in the wild garlic leaves and cook for 1 more minute. Add the double cream and stir.
4. Transfer the soup to a food processor and blend to a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top with pesto or croutons and serve with crusty bread.
- 250g pack unsalted butter, softened
- flaky sea salt, to taste
- 50g wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
Mash the butter in a bowl with some sea salt – start with 1/2 tsp, then taste before adding more. Stir in the wild garlic. Using a piece of baking parchment, roll and shape the butter into a log, then twist the ends to form a cracker. Chill until needed. You can freeze the log for a month and cut off slices as needed.
5 Wild Garlic Bread
You can use a plain bread mix – either a hand mix blend or bread making machine mix, or you can use a from-scratch recipe. Wash the ramps thoroughly and pat dry. Chop finely and add to your dough before kneading or putting in the bread maker. Bake as normal.