How amazing is Spring? The colours are coming out and I don't know about you but I'm thoroughly enjoying the garden. Spring is also the season of wild garlic aka Ramsoms and I am revelling in it. Me and a friend spotted a patch in the woods by my house and now I am seeing (and smelling it) everywhere. It is growing in abundance in Sussex, you just need to know where to look (I'll give you some sightings later in this post)!
Wild garlic is so versatile and it tastes and smells incredible. Eat it raw and it has a strong peppery garlic taste (that doesn't make you pong as much as root garlic would do to get the same taste) but if it hits a pan the taste and smell mellows and you have a perfect sauce or soup.
I've been eating wild garlic in every meal since we picked the first leaves - stirred into scrambled eggs, tossed into salads, made into a dressing, pesto, a quick topping for lamb steaks or pork chops, mashed into potatoes, layered onto open sandwiches (with goats cheese - hello!) and stir fried.
Wild garlic is packed with health properties. First and foremost it's a powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic and thought to reduce blood pressure.
Jessie and I have been walking the land most mornings when the smell of it is strong so I've spotted a few hotspots where it grows abundantly. Please be considerate when picking wild garlic and only pick the leaves as removing the bulbs will prevent it growing back next year (plus it's not permitted to pick the bulbs on someone else's land). You can pick the flowers and eat them, they do make a mighty pretty salad topping. Do tear a leaf and check the smell as you don't want to mistake with Lily of the Valley, which looks similar but definitely isn't good for you to eat.
This next week is really the last days for the wild garlic to be picked at its best, the flowers are almost full out and the leaves are becoming tough, try and pick the younger leaves if there are any. Make sure you wash it well before using and you can keep some in the fridge and chop some to store in good quality rapeseed oil or make into pesto and freeze (ice cube trays are your friend) to use all year round. It refreshes really well in a bowl of cold water so don't worry if your leaves wilt a little if you don't white manage to get round to whizzing it into something.
So where can you find it in Sussex? Generally wild garlic grows in wooded areas where there's water. So ideally you're looking for streams and rivers that are tree lined. Here's a few spots I've seen it:
// bridlepaths and footpaths around East Chiltington and Plumpton, it's growing up the stream banks in blankets - check the map and head for the water. There's loads off Chiltington Lane along the Bevern Stream.
// Forest Row country park by the stream. Stand on the bridge and sniff, you'll see it!
// wooded areas where there's water in Streat (near Ditching)
// at Barcombe Mills in abundance - literally follow your nose
// in the wooded areas of Wolstonbury Hill, Pyecombe
// the wooded areas on the downs (not on the sides of the downs, right on the top where the soil is less chalky)
I know it's a bit rainy today but get out there, get some country air and think how satisfying your wild dinner will be with that glass of wine! Alternatively try your local farmers market and they should be selling it for about a £1.
Have you seen any wild garlic anywhere? Or perhaps you have a favourite recipe for it. Please comment below to help others find it! I'll update this blog post each season with new sightings.
*update* you can see a few recipes on The Spoonie Foodie!
Formally Emma Gutteridge