Unless you’ve been living under a rock, (or possibly just the city centre) the chances are, you have noticed the woodlands and roadside hedgerows bursting into life this past month. The daffodils are almost gone now, but the bluebells and wild primroses are out and the gentle aroma of wild garlic wafts under your nostrils even when you are just passing by in the car.
I love this time of year. Everything bursting into life brings with it a renewed vigour and lifts everyone’s spirits! Many of the plants in season at this time of year are edible too, so my family adventures with the boys will be heavily focused on foraging this month!
What does it look like?
Your most likely encounter with wild garlic has probably been with either the ‘Three Cornered Garlic’, which flowers first, or ‘Ramsons Garlic’, which has just burst into flower in the last week (both pictured below).
Although the three cornered variety looks a little like a tall snowdrop, and before it flowers, the Ramsons leaves can be mistaken for other plants, its scent is a dead giveaway! If in doubt, all you have to do is crush a leaf between your fingers and smell! It’s a great, safe plant to start with. It’s also a prolific plant, so once you are using the rule of thirds and not picking in a nature reserve or national park, we are unlikely to impact negatively on this plant.
Both types of wild garlic grow abundantly near me. However, I tend to use Ramsons garlic for making garlic butter, mashing into potatoes and making pesto, simply because its broad leaf makes it easier to gather more of it weight wise.
How much do I need?
How much you need depends on what you want to do. For the recipe below, you’ll need about 50g of wild garlic. That equates to a large bowlful as you can see from the picture. You’ll make one large jar of pesto with that. I would suggest starting this way. You can always go back for more if your family have licked the jar clean in seconds!
Be gentle when gathering the leaves, a basket is ideal, but a large shopping bag works just as well.
Wild Garlic Pesto:
50g wild garlic
25g nuts – pine, cashews, hazelnuts etc.
40g of grated, hard, mature cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano or similar.
200ml of olive oil (extra virgin).
Sea salt and coarse black pepper to season.
- Wash your jar and lid in warm soapy water (or in the dishwasher), sterilise them by boiling in water for 10 minutes. If you are making a large batch, consider the oven sterilising method. It will keep for a few weeks in sterilised jars. If it’s going to be eaten immediately, you can skip the sterilising.
- Using a salad spinner, wash your wild garlic leaves as you would any salad leaf.
- Grate your cheese.
- Blitz the nuts and half the oil in the food processor.
- Add cheese, blitz again.
- Add the wild garlic and blitz.
- Season to taste, adding in the rest of the oil and more if necessary to gain your desired consistency and blitz again.
- Eat and enjoy!!
The great thing about making pesto is that it’s so easy to adapt it to your own taste.
Have fun finding your favourite nut, don’t just stick with the traditional pine nut. Try others. My favourites is roasted, salted cashews! And, I tend to throw in a bit more than the suggested 25g because I love the nutty flavour and gritty texture it gives.
Similarly with the cheese and even the oil! Some recipes suggest using a rapeseed oil instead. We have some lovely home-grown rapeseed oils in Ireland. I’ve tried making pesto with it and yes, it’s subtle enough to use, but personally I prefer olive oil. It’s also more likely to be in the cupboard!!
I’d love to hear how you get on and how you adapt the basic recipe to suit your family’s tastebuds!!