If you go down to the woods today, especially a wood that is designated Ancient Woodland, then you are more than likely to come across Wild Garlic.
Wild Garlic is one of the number of plant species whose presence indicates that a wood is ancient. Traditionally used in medicine, with the bulb being one of the key ingredients in tonics for rheumatic problems and high cholesterol.
It is a popular foraged ingredient, as its leaves can be eaten raw in salads, or blanched and used in place of spinach, or mades into a soup, pesto, wild garlic butter and for sauces. They have a mild garlic flavour and are at their best before the flowers appear. The flowers are also edible and can be added raw to salads.
A friend from Brussels days, has over 100 acres of ancient woodland and as such in the spring has an abundant source of wild garlic, along with glade upon glade of the most beautiful English Bluebells.
On my last visit ( pre-pandemic days) she was busy making wild garlic and potato soup. Although I have in the past made oodles of soup, but currently himself is not a soup frame of mind.
However, Watts Farm in Kent, ( my current favourite online grocery delivery service ( ok they don’t have everything I want) but they do have some unusual things besides and wild garlic being one of them. I think I have bought 400 grams of the leaves ( and I can tell you, that is a lot !)
So what did I use it for? Firstly I made wild garlic butter, which I wizzed up softened butter and the garlic leaves together, put into ice cube trays, froze, bagged, to go into the freezer drawer, along with my other butters and sauces.
Next I made, some wild garlic pesto, which is a combination of Olive Oil, wild garlic and pine nuts. because of the concentration of oil, it will get thick but will not freeze, so I bag it in smallish quantities and out in the freezer.
Finally, I made some wild garlic sauce, which I served with some steak, asparagus and a sauté of mixed mushrooms.
To make a wild garlic sauce
- 50 grams butter
- 4 small shallots diced
- a clove of garlic, crushed
- 100 grams wild garlic leaves
- pinch of dried tarragon, or 1 oz of fresh, chopped
- 150 mls single cream
- pinch of salt
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the shallots and garlic, cook gently, being careful not to brown the shallots. Add the wild garlic and the tarragon and cook until the leaves are tender.
Transfer to a blender, put the cream in the pan and bring to the boil, add it to the blender and process until smooth. Season with salt to taste.