Wild garlic usually begins proliferating, in veg boxes, at farmers’ markets and on the forest floor, from now until the start of June – not so much a season as a brief window of opportunity. This year, it is reported to have come earlier than usual – which means it will be gone again before you know it.
Wild garlic – AKA ramsons, or ramps, or bear’s garlic – is expensive to buy but free to forage. It grows in dense green carpets, if you know where to look. But you also want to make sure you’re picking the right thing: the leaves of wild garlic are easily mistaken for lily of the valley, which is more poisonous than it sounds, and also dog’s mercury, which is about as poisonous. Neither of these smell or taste like garlic (dog’s mercury apparently smells foul) so it should be easy to distinguish, but they tend to grow in the same shady spots. If you’re not careful, you may gather up a few stray leaves of the wrong sort.
Let’s assume you have secured a safe and reliable supply – now what? How many ways can you eat wild garlic? The answer is: a lot more than 17, but here are 17 to be getting on with.
Wild garlic is considerably less pungent than ordinary bulb garlic, but you can use it as a substitute, as long as you bear in mind that the more subtle flavour won’t survive any prolonged cooking…