Wild Garlic Season

It's wild garlic season! And we are big fans of wild garlic here at Just Footprints. With this in mind we thought we would put together some of our favourite ways to use it, and a beginners guide to foraging for wild garlic. 
As foraging goes, wild garlic is a great place to begin. You can easily identify its  distinctive garlicky smell as you stroll through woodland. You probably even already know it by sight, long flat leaves that grow prolifically and blanket the woodland floor, and later in the season scattered with delicate white flowers (also edible). If you are unsure where to find wild garlic around your area, they prefer to grow in shady damp conditions, so wooded areas with dappled sunlight is a safe bet. I tend to keep a mesh bag in my jacket when out walking the dog or on a bike ride, just in case the opportunity presents itself for a little wild garlic picking. 
Wild garlic season begins in March and extends into June, the leaves are best picked young and can be used in a variety of ways from soups and pestos, to flavoured salts and breads. I have even stirred them into curries, and popped them into dumplings for stews, they really are a great ingredient that can be used in a great. number of ways. The flowers, which appear later in the season really pack a punch and are best used as a garnish in salads or on soups. When picking any wild plants there is some etiquette to be mindful of;
  • Never remove the roots or bulb of the plant you are foraging as it will prevent it from regrowing, and damage the natural environment, and in some cases it is illegal to do so. Pick the leaves off at the stem rather than pulling out of the ground. 
  • Only take what you need, be mindful of taking away too much - wild life are dependant on the plants in their environment and you don't want to negatively effect the plant or deny other foragers the chance of picking. 
  • If walking in protected woodland/walking routes you may need permission before taking any of the plant life growing there. Normally if you are respectful and only take what is needed this is not a problem. 
How to use Wild Garlic...
Once you have found and picked your garlic, give it a good wash in cold water and dry thoroughly, store in the fridge until needed. Here's a few ideas to get you started using wild garlic;
Wild Garlic Salt
Making flavoured salts is a great way to make the season last longer, and keep the flavour of wild garlic in your cooking for the rest of the summer. 
  • 1kg coarse salt flakes
  • 100g wild garlic leaves
  1. Roughly chop the wild garlic leaves and pop them into a blender with about 150g of the salt, whizz together until you have a paste.
  2. Combine the paste with the rest of the salt using a spoon until evenly mixed. 
  3. Spread the salt thinly over a baking tray and bake on low (about75-80c) for two hours or until completely dried out. You can also make this in a dehydrator on your lowest setting. It makes a lovely pale green salt that smells incredible!
Wild Garlic Scones
This is a lovely simple recipe for vegan scones (if you prefer to use non vegan ingredients, just substitute the same amount of butter, milk or yoghurt as the recipe states). The nutritional yeast adds a slightly cheesy flavour, you can leave this out if you prefer or if using dairy, substitute for parmesan.
  • 175g Plain Flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 45g vegan butter (a hard block version works best here)
  • a handful of finely chopped wild garlic
  • 2 tbsp vegan yoghurt
  • 30ml oat milk
  • a pinch of salt
  1. In a large bowl combine the plain flour, baking powder, nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt.
  2. Rub 45g of cold butter into the dry mixture with your fingertips, once you have a crumb like mixture stir through the Wild garlic.
  3. Add the yoghurt and oat milk and mix gently to combine, just enough to bring the dough together, don't overwork the dough or you may end up with tough garlicky biscuits rather than fluffy scones.
  4. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to about an inch thickness, cut into rounds using a cookie cutter and place onto a lined baking tray. If you'd like a golden top on the scones, brush a combination of milk and maple syrup on top of each scone (or a beaten egg if you're not going vegan). Bake in a preheated oven at 200c for 15-20 minutes, or until they are a pale golden colour.
Wild Garlic and New Potato Soup
A pleasingly green soup to make the most of the seasons veg. I topped mine with a little wild garlic pesto and nigella seeds (also known as black onion seeds).
  • 1 white onion - chopped 
  • 2 celery stalks - chopped
  • 600g new potatoes - steamed until tender
  • 75g of wild garlic 
  • 1L of vegetable stock
  • salt to taste
  1. Sauté the onion and celery with a little oil, in a saucepan until soft and translucent. Add wild garlic and stock, cover and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes and blend until smooth, adding extra stock if needed to create your preferred consistency. Season to taste.
 
Wild Garlic Pesto
I never really measure anything when I'm making pesto, I just chuck it all in the blender and taste as I go. When making a pesto you can't go wrong with;
  • a nut base (anything will work here; my favourites are walnuts, hazel nuts or pine nuts),
  • a leafy green - in this case it's wild garlic, but you can make pesto using kale, carrot tops, radish tops, and herbs etc
  • lemon juice
  • something cheesy - in my case its nutritional yeast, you can also opt for parmesan or similar
  • good quality olive oil - I like a mix of a mild one and an extra virgin
  • salt
If you aren't a chuck it in and see what happens kind of a cook I recommend this recipe from Riverford for wild garlic pesto.
 
So there you have it! What will you be making this Wild Garlic Season?
This article and recipes were written by Kyrsten Collis @vegboxvegan 

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