The above picture is of Wild Garlic ‘Allium ursinum’ also commonly known as Bear’s Garlic or Ransoms. It is a perennial, bulbous plant belonging to the Lily family and is a relative of the Wild Onion. Here i found it emerging from its winter slumber in the Belvoir Woods, eventually it will produce frothy white flowers heads and fill the woods with a subtle garlicky scent. I always look forward to seeing this lovely perennial as it reassures me winter is behind us and that, as a herbalist, my foraging and most productive time has arrived.
At the risk of sounding religious, I believe mother nature does have the most perfect plan, she provides us with plants throughout the seasons, which through their unique chemical constituents, enhance our health and well being at the times we most require them. I love to observe this pattern throughout the seasons, guided in my foraging by what I can find and how the plants draw me towards them with scents, colours and form. As a keen cook I love to consume as much of a plant in its prime as I can, feeling this will give me the maximum health benefits. I also preserve what I can, herbal tinctures being the most relevant example to me of trapping a plants active constituents for continued benefits.
Wild Garlic is an amazing plant and has many health benefits which can be accessed simply by incorporating the leaves into the diet. Best picked before the flowers appear when at its most tender and as its leaves do resemble other plants, ensure correct identification by rubbing the leaves to release the distinctive garlicky smell.
This plant is an excellent blood purifier and would be a great addition to a spring detox program. It can help to boost the immune system as it has antibacterial, antiviral and antibiotic qualities. Wild garlic is high in vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, phosphorous, sodium and copper. It is an incredibly effective plant for reducing blood pressure, more so than garlic bulbs, this is due to its high allicin content making it cardio protective to ward off heart disease and strokes.
There are many ways to enjoy this wonderful plant and here are a couple of simple recipes to try!
Wild Garlic Pesto
100g Wild Garlic leaves
50g Parmesan cheese grated
50g hazelnuts, skinned and toasted or other nut of choice
lemon juice to taste
salt & pepper
Blitz the washed leaves in a food processor, then add Parmesan and process further. Add the hazelnuts plus olive oil to desired consistency. Finally add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Put in a jar a keep in the fridge for a week or so. Lovely with pasta.
Wild Garlic Vinegar
100g Wild Garlic leaves chopped
500ml Cider Vinegar
Wash the garlic leaves then dry in a tea towel, place in a screw top jar and pour over the cider vinegar. Shake daily for six weeks then strain and bottle. A great way to preserve the wild garlic and access it’s health benefits. Take as you would cider vinegar as a daily shot or add to salad dressings.
These are just a couple of examples of how to utilize this amazing plant!