Lets Go Wild About Garlic & Nettles
March marks the start of wild garlic season in the UK. A native plant to Britain, it is available until May/June, when it will start to flower.
When freshly picked it holds a very strong punchy smell and taste yet is more mellow than the traditional garlic used in kitchens. Much like regular garlic, it’s thought that wild garlic has many health benefits including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
For those new to foraging it is a fantastic plant to start with, as it’s very distinctive and easy to spot, it is often found in abundance and is versatile to cook with.
Some things to consider:
-Forage from large clusters but just take what you need, leaving plenty for wildlife and other foragers
-Avoid picking the flowers/buds in early season (March/April)
-Aim for areas slightly oﬀ the track i.e. areas with reduced vehicle fumes/smaller chances of being used as an animal toilet
-Have something to carry the produce (carrier bag/rucksack/ pocket)
-Keep an eye out for other plants to forage at this time that often grown nearby, like stinging nettles. Wear gloves if picking nettles and aim for the young fresh leaves at the top. It’s a good idea to bring scissors to cut the nettles.
Before dong anything with the wild garlic and nettles, make sure you wash them really well in water. It will require a few rinses. When handling nettles be aware the sting remains until boiled, so make sure to put on some gloves.
Also the pungency and taste of wild garlic rapidly decreases as soon as it is picked, so use them sooner rather than later. How about trying this tasty and healthy soup recipe below.
Wild Garlic & Nettle Soup
1 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 onion, finely diced
1 leek, finely diced
2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 small potato, peeled and diced
1.2l good-quality vegetable stock
300g young nettle leaves
200g wild garlic leaves
3 tbsp milk
Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, leek, celery, carrot, potato and a good pinch of salt, and stir until everything is well coated. Cover and sweat gently for 15-20 mins, stirring every so often to make sure that the vegetables don’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 mins. Add the nettles in several batches, stirring, then add the wild garlic leaves and simmer for 2 mins.