Saturday, 21 March 2009

Going wild about garlic

The first appearance of wild garlic is the sign that spring is on its way. Typically found growing on woodland floors, it has a remarkably short life cycle. The ground tends to be carpeted with its long, green leaves before the trees above them are in leaf. By late May, the white flowers of wild garlic are turning into green seeds. By mid June, the life cycle is virtually over. So make the most of wild garlic whilst you can. And there is every reason to do so.

Wild garlic, just like its domesticated cousin, is good for the circulatory and immune system. It helps the liver clear unwanted chemicals from the blood and it is rich in vitamins A and B. Whilst it is much more pungent than its bulbous cousin (walk through a woodland in spring and you will smell it - and your clothes will smell of it as well) its taste is quite mild. That means it is great as a salad leaf and for cooking in soups, dips and so on.

I've just picked a bag full of bright green leaves in Washingwell Woods, near Sunniside. Most of the wood is made up of commercial fir trees, which is useless for wild garlic, but there are patches of deciduous trees where I found what I was after. If you live in an urban or suburban area, you will find it in wooded parkland and cemeteries with tree cover.

If you want to supplement your diet with some free, healthy wild food, wild garlic should be on your list. And if you are aiming for self-sufficiency, wild garlic is most definitely on your list.

Tonight we are making wild garlic pesto (to go with the first pasta we have ever made), and a stuffing for pheasant we are having tomorrow.

Coming up will be spring salad, garlic bread, flan, stuffed garlic leaves, garlic bread sauce, leaves dipped in batter and hopefully a range of other foods we haven't thought of yet, as well as anything else we stumble across in recipes we find.

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