Spring is the ideal time to embark on a foraging expedition for this versatile and aromatic plant, which may be used to make soup or pesto.
With its fresh, garlicky aroma, wild garlic is an unmistakable springtime perfume in woodlands and forests.
Wild garlic has a milder flavor than typical bulb garlic, and the green, pointed leaves and white blossoms of this plant make it an excellent choice for a beginner’s foraging expedition.
In the spring, why not take a walk in the woods to check if you can find the spring’s bounty?
This guide is on how to find wild garlic in London, including key information on how to forage responsibly, its uses, and preservation.
When Is The Wild Garlic Season?
Between February and June in the UK, wild garlic is in season. Only the leaves will be present in February, and the optimal period to pick them is in February and March.
In April, the blooms begin to sprout, and they can be gathered until the end of the season in June.
The leaves and blooms of this plant are tasty. Young leaves enhance the flavor of soups, sauces, and pesto. The optimal time to harvest leaves is when they are young and appear in March.
The blossoms, which bloom between April and June, impart a powerful garlic flavor to salads and sandwiches.
What Does Wild Garlic Look Like?
During the height of the growing season, dense clumps of wild garlic carpet the forest floor.
Young, emerald-green, long-pointed leaves with a smooth margin are optimal for harvesting.
The flowers of wild garlic produce exquisite white clusters and often blossom in mid spring.
The blossoms are also edible and can be used in salads and other meals for aesthetic purposes.
Where To Find Wild Garlic In London?
While it is true that foraging is a popular activity for long country treks, London has a few secret sites for those in the know.
Don’t be afraid to forage in urban areas, but always be mindful of where you locate these wonderful delights, respect how you harvest them and wash them carefully before consuming.
Here are a few of our favorite locations to find some of spring’s incredible bounty:
Streatham Common has a fantastic wooded area that runs next to an underground spring that teems with wild garlic.
As the weather warms up in the spring, you’ll notice gorgeous shoots emerging.
- Dulwich Park
This aromatic allium is incredibly abundant in Dulwich Park, where it grows in profusion.
Wild Garlic produces three separate components: broad leaves, blooms, and buds.
The leaves are ideal for making pesto or preserving by making a vibrant green pesto, the flowers are even more pungent than the leaves and add great color to salads, and once the flowers have seeded, the buds can be salted to make the most extraordinary capers.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Wild Garlic?
It is traditionally used throughout Europe as a spring tonic due to its blood-purifying effects.
Wild garlic is also believed, like bulb garlic, to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, hence reducing the risk of ailments such as heart attack and stroke.
The liquid extracted from boiling the leaves was traditionally employed as a disinfectant.
It is known to repel cats, thus it may be a suitable addition to the garden of an avid ornithologist.
Despite its robust aroma, wild garlic has a far milder flavor than regular garlic. Prior to blossoming, it is easily confused with Lily-of-the-Valley due to their similar leaves.
How To Forage Wild Garlic Responsibly?
Always ensure that you can positively identify a plant before picking it, and never eat a plant that you cannot positively identify. Leave plenty of food for wildlife when foraging.
Here are some essential guidelines for foraging:
- Prior to foraging, seek permission. In some locations, plant species are protected, thus it is essential to conduct research with the landowner prior to collecting.
- Only scavenge in regions where the supply is abundant. Look for regions where food is abundant and then take only a tiny amount for yourself.
- Never fully strip an area, as this could be detrimental to the species and prevent another collector from the opportunity to gather.
- Leave enough for wildlife and refrain from destroying habitats. Numerous animals rely on plants for sustenance; therefore, you should never collect more plants than you intend to consume.
- Doing so could deprive wildlife of a vital food supply. Consider wildlife habitats carefully and refrain from disrupting or harming them.
- Never collect or inflict irreparable harm to protected species. The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) protects all of Britain’s wild plants, making it illegal to dig up or remove them.
- Check the legislation prior to foraging, and if you are uncertain, you can take a foraging class with a professional to learn the basics.
How To Use Wild Garlic?
As with domesticated alliums, wild garlic is edible, and its leaves are a wonderful accompaniment to a pate or cheese sandwich.
Carefully harvest a handful of leaves without disturbing the bulbs, then cut or blend and use as you would garlic.
You can also conserve the blooms since they make lovely food garnishes for savory recipes.
How To Store And Can You Freeze Wild Garlic?
If you want to cook with your newly collected wild garlic within a couple of days, then it can be refrigerated in an airtight container.
Alternatively, you can place the stem in a glass of water and refrigerate it to help it last longer.
Wild garlic can be frozen to maintain its freshness and nutritional value, similar to fruits and vegetables.
Simply wash and dry the produce, then store it in a freezer bag and freeze.
The ability to cook with wild garlic out of season is a further advantage of freezing it.