Wild garlic is a fantastic herb that grows wild in many locations in and around our towns and cities. The chances are you have some near you - you'll know it by the seriously pungent smell as you pass by. Unlike regular garlic, you just use the leaves, which taste similar to chives and which you use in much the same way. However, it isn't around forever and now is the time to pick it, so get out there pronto unless you want to wait till next year to enjoy it.
We're keen to garden using permaculture principles, one of which involves planting crops that will pretty much take care of themselves with little or no input from you. Wild garlic is perfect, as it grows like a weed and it's really tasty, so we dug up some we came across while on holiday a week or so ago and transplanted it to a nice shady spot in the allotment. Hopefully it'll take ok, so fingers crossed.
Only pick a few of the bigger leaves from each plant to allow the rest of the plant to keep growing and provide more tasty leaves for next time. Also, make sure you wash the leaves thoroughly before eating, as you never know who's been doing what to it before you picked it. When using it in your food, don't be shy with quantities, as it's a lot milder in taste than garlic cloves.
My favourite way to use it so far is in a simple potato salad.
Wild garlic and new potato salad
- New potatoes
- A small handful of wild garlic leaves
- Extra virgin olive oil
- A pinch of sea salt
- Boil some lovely new potatoes whole and in their skins (salt the water if you like)
- In the mean time, wash the wild garlic leaves and chop them finely
- Once they're cooked, give the potatoes a gentle bash with some kind of blunt implement (a potato masher is ideal, but don't over do it) to roughen them up and break them up a little. The oil and flavour will be better absorbed by the potatoes this way and the texture is lovely.
- Mix through the olive oil, salt and chopped garlic leaves.
A quick note on sea salt and extra virgin olive oil...
You should always use sea salt rather than table salt, as table salt contains chemical additives that stop the granules sticking together, whereas sea salt doesn't. If you find your salt sticking in the shaker, just put in a teaspoon of rice, which will prevent this from happening.
Lots of people don't know the difference between extra virgin and regular olive oil. It's really simple. They're both processed in the same way, but extra virgin olive oil uses olives that have been freshly harvested, whereas olives used in the 'normal' oil may have been sitting for some time before being pressed. I'd go for extra virgin every time.