The Go Wild Go West blog

Foraging: Wild Garlic

The perfect way to get kids out walking!

We’ve reached that time of year when, if you’re wondering through woodland, or along shaded pathways, you’re likely to catch the distinctive whiff of garlic. Indeed, there’s wild garlic (or Ramsons) all around, covering huge stretches of woodland floor, or growing in small patches in our gardens or local hedgerows. We’re lucky in the South West to have an abundance of it! I always look forward to that first scent of garlic because it’s a sure sign that Spring has arrived and it’s time to get foraging!

foraging wild garlic
A beautiful walk and foragers dream!

It can also add a little excitement to a walk. Let’s be honest, sometimes we need an excuse to encourage the kids out…. rather than going for a ‘walk’ which might evoke moans and the dragging (or stamping?!) of feet, why not take them out on a foraging adventure? My two love to venture out with bags and gloves to collect wild garlic and nettles to make soup, or pesto, or really any meal where you’d normally use garlic (wild garlic is a great substitute and can be used in stir fry’s, bolognaise, even scones!!)

If you’re unsure where to find your nearest batch of wild garlic, a quick google search will give you plenty of options. Then once you know what it looks like, you’ll start to see it everywhere!

Tips for foraging wild garlic and nettles

  1. It’s always worth taking a field guide or your phone with you to double check you’ve got the right plant. We use the brilliant ‘PlantWise Identifier’ to photograph and identify everything we forage and all our wild flower finds!
  2. With wild garlic, the biggest clue is the smell. If it doesn’t smell like garlic, don’t eat it!
  3. You can eat the white flowers of the Ramson plant
  4. Avoid wild garlic that is low down, and on a frequently used dog walking paths…. for obvious reasons….
  5. Take gloves for picking nettles….
  6. You want to be picking the young shoot and leaves at the top of the nettle – about the top 4 inches of the plant. Don’t pick the nettle if it’s flowered, the taste can become bitter and some say it can lead to bladder issues though I’m yet to see any definitive evidence of this.
  7. There’s a really great article by BBC Countryfile about foraging wild garlic here.
foraging wild garlic - garlic and nettle soup
wild garlic and nettle soup

Recipe:
Wild Garlic & Nettle Soup:

Ingredients:
Oil
Onion x 1
Leek x 1
Celery stick x 1
Carrot x 1
Potato x 1
1 litre vegetable stock
300g nettle leaves – washed
200g wild garlic – washed

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, leek, celery, carrot, potato and a good pinch of salt, and stir. Cover and let bubble gently for 20 minutes or so.
  • Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 mins. Add the nettles in several batches (using tongs), and stir. Then add the wild garlic leaves and simmer for 2 mins.
  • Remove from the heat and blend
  • Best accompanied by a cool glass of white wine (but that’s just personal preference!)

Have you thought about foraging Sticky Willy? Check out our recipe for Sticky Willy curry here.