A walk in the woods in the spring and the sweet smell of ransoms is in the air. Those tender green leaves aren’t around for long, so here’s how to make the most of a wild garlic forage.
First of all…remember this is a wild plant and belongs to everyone and no-one. Don’t swoop in and deforest a whole ransom crop – pick a couple of handfuls at most and never pull up the whole plant. It’s illegal to pick plants in protected woodland, by the way. Many farmers’ markets sell wild garlic, so buy rather than destroy!
It should be obvious from the smell, and the bright green, pointed leaves which is the wild garlic, but there have been some cases of people picking lily-of-the-valley by mistake and being poisoned. If you’re not sure, don’t pick it. If the ransoms have lots of white flowers, it’s past its best.
Did you know…garlic (and especially wild garlic) is antibacterial, antibiotic and antiseptic. It’s proven to reduce blood pressure too.
How to prepare wild garlic
Give it a wash under running water. It’s delicious raw, chopped into salad or wrapped around a slice of goat’s cheese, for example. Wilt it in a dribble of oil for less than a minute and it’s possibly even nicer. Like spinach, it’ll shrink, though.
It smells strong when you pick it, but it’s far more subtle when cooked and when added to other flavourful ingredients.
Ransom recipe ideas
- Chop finely and add to a dip or sauce – mayonnaise, a little yoghurt, mustard, lemon juice and olive oil or make it as simple as adding to a spoonful of bought mayonnaise
- Add to cream cheese for sandwiches, toasties or jacket potatoes
- Give great flavour to an omelette
- Scatter over buttered new potatoes
Wild garlic and salmon pasta – plus a veggie alternative
- Six leaves of wild garlic shredded
- 150g smoked salmon or smoked tofu cut into bite-sized pieces
- 75g freshly grated parmesan (or a tablespoon of nutritional yeast)
- An egg
- Salt and pepper
- 150g-ish of pasta
Mix your parmesan or nutritional yeast in a bowl with the eggs. Add a grinding of pepper. Add the wild garlic and salmon or tofu.
Cook the pasta, drain and keep a small amount of water in the pan to help the sauce spread. Put the pasta back and add the sauce to warm and coat the strands. Check if it needs salt or a squeeze of lemon. Serve and enjoy!
Potato and wild garlic soup
- A few handfuls of wild garlic
- Three large potatoes, diced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- A litre of vegetable stock
- Black pepper and salt
If you’re making this while camping, chop all your ingredients as finely as you can. It means they’ll cook faster and you’ll have a ‘textured’ rather than liquidised soup.
Cook the onion and potatoes in the olive oil and butter for 15 minutes. Add the garlic stalks and stock and simmer till everything is soft. Add the garlic leaves and seasoning. Cook for a minute or so more. Process to a smooth soup if you have electricity and a gadget. If not, you can mash it a little with a spoon or leave as is. A swirl of crème fraîche to finish.
Ransom pesto – and a vegetarian pesto
- A biggish bunch of wild garlic
- A smallish bunch of curly parsley
- 60g of toasted or dry-fried pine nuts or sunflower seeds
- 60g of grated parmesan (or a tablespoon of nutritional yeast)
- 150ml of olive oil
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- Salt and black pepper
If you have a processor, then simply whizz this all together. If not, chop everything as finely as you can. Delicious on pasta, toast, as a salad dressing or eaten with a spoon while no-one’s looking.
Some recommended reading for foragers