Wild Garlic

Wild garlic or Ramsons (Allium ursinum) is a wild member of the lily family which you can generally detect from about 20 paces as the scent of garlic fills the air, especially in parts of the country where it can cover the woodland floor. The damper river valleys and hillsides in Yorkshire and Lancashire can have huge swathes and you can even find it growing along footpaths beside arable fields.

It is less frequent around Grantham and tends to be more restricted to typical woodland floor habitat – it can be found in Belvoir Woods to the west and there are some good colonies beneath the trees at Belton House.

Wild Garlic in Belvoir Woods
Wild Garlic growing in Belvoir Woods

At the moment, the leaves are full and fresh and the buds are just beginning to form – in a few weeks the white star-like flowers will appear too.

The garlic is not just restricted to the scent either – it can be used in cooking where it adds a mild garlicey flavour, more subtle than your average cloves. The leaves can be wilted down and used, or the bulbs can be chopped and cooked in a similar way as you might use normal garlic or spring onion bulbs. But although it is legal to take the leaves of wild garlic, it is illegal to uproot the plant (as you would have to do to get to the bulbs) without the landowners permission.

If you do find a good source of wild garlic, a delicious recipe which I found on another blog is a recipe for pesto. This uses nettle leaves as a base but I have made it using wild garlic leaves instead.

I have also cooked the leaves as part of a risotto – if you chop them down and stir them in, they make a wonderful accompaniment with asparagus tips.  This recipe on the Guardian website would make a good base!

It should be fairly easy to grow in your own garden too, if you have a good shady corner. The seeds can be bought from a range of places; the Naturescape wildflower farm at Langar is a good local option if you would like to establish your own colony.

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