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.
Be kind to nature…and other foragers
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 patch – 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!
Is that wild garlic?
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
Simply give it a wash under running water. If you’re gathering it in an area where dogs have been, give it an extra thorough wash.
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 alternativeFor two
- 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
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
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
Some recommended reading for foragers