... you could be in for a lovely surprise. When spring arrives, so does the wild garlic!
Far reaching carpets of Wild garlic spread over the woodland floor like a fresh blanket and the aroma of garlic fills the air. I love our North Yorkshire retreats at this time of year as we take our guests on a beautiful 10k walk through rolling Nidderdale countryside. Nature is alive and buzzing right now; birds, lambs; flowers... and the wild garlic is out in force!
Walk through a carpet of beautiful wild garlic on our 10k guided walk
Wild garlic is one of the easiest wild plants to recognise - both by appearance and its strong garlicky smell. Found in woodland throughout Britain, Wild Garlic is also known as Bear leek, Bear's garlic, Broad-leaved garlic, Buckrams, Ramsons, Wood garlic and can grow to heights of between 45 and 50 cm. The leaves appear in March and are best picked when young. You can shred the leaves and sprinkle them on top of your favourite dish instead of fresh coriander, or chop and add to your favourite dishes for a strong fresh garlic taste. The flowers emerge from April to June and are also edible, so make a pretty yet potent garlic punch to salads and sandwiches.
On the third day of your Perfect retreat at our North Yorkshire Retreat Centre you will get the opportunity to join one of our experienced guides and enjoy a 10k walk through beautiful and inspiring Nidderdale countryside. Far reaching views, a serene lake, natural woodland are all waiting for you... however join us between March and June and you can also find yourself foraging your own Wild garlic to make into delicious pesto once back at the Centre - yummy!
HOW TO FORAGE FOR WILD GARLIC RESPONSIBLY
Foraging can be a rewarding and fun, however in order to protect the natural environment and prevent damage to the plant or fungi species, it is vital to forage responsibly.
Here are a couple of key foraging guidelines:
- Seek permission before foraging. In certain areas, plant species will be protected so it is important to do some research and check with the landowner before you start gathering.
- Only pick from areas that have a plentiful supply. Look for areas where you can find wild garlic in abundance and then only collect a small amount for personal use. Never completely strip an area as this could damage the species and deny another forager the chance to collect.
- Leave enough for wildlife and avoid damaging habitats. Many animals rely on plants for survival, so never take more than you plan to eat as this could also deny wildlife from a valuable food source. Be mindful about wildlife habitats and avoid disturbing or damaging.
- Never pick protected species or cause permanent damage. Britain's wild plants are all protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), which makes it illegal to dig up or remove a plant. Check the law before you forage or if in doubt, why take part in a foraging class with an expert and learn the basics.
- The best way to check that what you’ve picked is wild garlic is to crush the leaves in your palm and take a good sniff. If it smells like garlic, then you’ve picked the right plant!
Then once you’ve got your delicious wild garlic, it’s time to make something with it! There are lots of recipes for wild garlic but my favourite thing to make is pesto. Here is a great and simple recipe for wild garlic pesto...
100g wild garlic leaves
50g parmesan cheese
50g toasted pine nuts
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and Pepper
Wash wild garlic leaves thoroughly.
Place the leaves, parmesan, olive oil and nuts into a food processor and blitz. You could also do this with a pestle and mortar if you want to be more traditional.
Add further oil if you wish to have a thinner texture and mix.
Add in your salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
Wild garlic pesto is fantastic mixed with fresh pasta for a simple dish but its great on its own for dipping your favourite nibbles into.