Everything You Need to Know About Preparing and Storing Wild Garlic
Plus, 5 recipes
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I grew up in a small village at the foot of the Alps—surrounded untouched nature as my playground. In spring, you could always catch the scent of fresh wild garlic in the air during walks outside and it often appeared on our dinner table in the form of a fragrant, herbal salad.
Wild garlic is extremely versatile and gives pestos, salads or pasta a memorable spicy, garlicky aroma. For those who already love wild garlic to those who either haven’t tried it yet or simply overlooked it, there’s good news—it’s easy to find, whether that’s from your local market, from a spot foraging, or planting sea of wild garlic yourself.
Next time you’re walking along through a shady meadow in spring, look out for pointed wild garlic leaves. Overeager gatherers be careful: There’s a close resemblance to the poisonous lily of the valley or meadow saffron. In case of doubt there’s a simple rule: Follow your nose for the telltale garlicky scent!
1. When, where, and how to buy wild garlic
Wild garlic needs a frost to grow. So sow your seeds in the winter months, but don’t expect any edible leaves until sunshine brings warmer temperatures. Spring is the heyday of wild garlic. As a rule, it’s available from March to May in grocery stores or at weekly markets.
Look for fresh, crisp, luscious green leaves and stay away from limp, withered or yellowed ones. Avoid bunches with too many flowers, as these are signs of a weakening aroma.
2. How to prepare wild garlic
Wild garlic is very straightforward to grow and prepare. Discard withered leaves or those with stains and rinse and dry the rest. Due to the smooth surface of the leaves, there’s usually little dirt to clean off. Trim off any longer stems and chop the leaves or cut into horizontal or vertical strips according to your recipe or, blend up whole leaves into pesto.
Because of its high water content, wild garlic only lasts a few days after purchase. Either prep it directly, or store in the fridge wrapped in a damp kitchen towel and use it up within the next two days.
You can also freeze your fresh, green wild garlic leaves: wash them thoroughly and place them in a freezer bag or tupperware container. We recommend chopping the wild garlic, distributing into an ice cube tray and topping up with water or vegetable broth—they can be used straight from frozen in cooked dishes.
3. All the ways to enjoy wild garlic
Wild garlic adds character to soups, sauces, pastas, sandwiches, potato, and fish dishes. Try using it in dishes where you’d otherwise use chives or garlic for a seasonal twist.
Due to its winning taste and short seasonality, wild garlic is often preserved into wild garlic salt, wild garlic oil or a savory wild garlic pesto. Mix wild garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil, and sea salt (which seasons and cures the pesto, two birds with one stone) in a food processor and store in an airtight container. Stir it into pasta dishes or as spread on a fresh slice of sourdough bread. For even more spreadability: You can also add chopped wild garlic into cream cheese or butter.
It’s best not to heat wild garlic much as this destroys its flavor. Therefore, if you want to use it in hot dishes, stir it in just before serving.
4. What to make next?
All week long, we'll be featuring new wild garlic recipes on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what's new, then try one for yourself! Here's where to start:
How do you like to use wild garlic? We’re looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.
Published on April 19, 2020