Wonderful wild garlic
Wild garlic is prolific in the garden from early spring through May. Our Wild Garlic fortnight celebrates the culinary plant, from 8 - 22 April.
What is Wild Garlic?
Wild garlic, Allium ursinum, also known as Ramsoms, is a member of the onion family.
The large flat leaves of wild garlic start to appear above ground at the end of January, and it gradually begins to bloom around April and May. The plant favours damp conditions and is often found in woodlands, so Prior Park is perfect.
Wild garlic can be identified by its foliage which is similar to Lily of the valley, with small star-shaped white flowers. The abundant leaves have a very strong garlic aroma. If you are walking in a wood where the plant is growing, you'll often find it with your nose before you spot it. The strong scent of the plant has meant it has been nicknamed Stink bombs, Sally in the woods and Stinking Nanny.
Once the buds begin to burst into flower, the garden will have a carpet of white blossoms within a few weeks.
Wild Garlic as a herbal remedy
Wild garlic has been credited with many medicinal qualities and is a popular homeopathic ingredient. It is often used for treating high blood pressure and digestive problems.
Clove garlic is known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties because of its sulphur content. It was even used in the First and Second World War for sterilisation of wounds, so imagine the potency of wild garlic which has four and a half times more sulphur compounds than culinary garlic.
Various minerals are found in much higher amounts in Wild garlic. It is sometimes called the “magnesium king” of plants because of the high levels of this mineral found in the leaves. Magnesium is known as the anti-stress mineral and protects the circulatory system, especially the heart.
Wild Garlic in cooking
All parts of the wild garlic plant are edible and have culinary uses, including the flower which can be used to garnish salads.
The leaves of the Wild garlic are the most popular part to be used in food. They carry a very subtle garlicky flavour similar to that of garlic chives. When picked the leaves bruise, making them smell even stronger. When cooked the flavour of the leaves becomes softer and sweeter.
The leaf is often chopped and used to replace garlic and other herbs in many recipes. Popular dishes using the plant include pesto, aioli, soups, pasta and cheese and wild garlic scones. However, the leaves can also be used raw in salads.
The bulb can be used in a similar way to clove garlic.