Gathering wild garlic

Spring is an exciting time in Pembrokeshire with all sorts of things springing into growth and the promise of summer heavy in the air. And one of the harbingers of the season is the verdant green of wild garlic (ramsons) that carpets shady bylanes, soon contrasted by the lacy,  pungent white flowers. Remarkably, the aroma isn’t as strong as you might imagine, though it is distinctive. In fact, if H happens to be driving anywhere, particularly during warm evenings, she often winds down her car window to appreciate it.
This year, we’ve been inspired to go gathering by books on foraging and the pesto-making workshop run by school-friend Tom Bean at last year’s West Wales Food Festival (held annually at the National Botanical gardens of Wales).

Wild garlic
Returning home with armfuls of the leaves (to capture the essence avoid wet leaves or leaves from plants that have flowered) we chose several methods of incorporating the flavour in cooking:

  • we stuffed freshly gathered leaves into a whole salmon baked for a Volunteer Weekend
  • we crushed leaves with good olive oil, salt & parmesan to make pesto for pasta
  • we put some leaves down in the freezer, double wrapped in zip-lock bags to stop the scent tainting other things, so we could use them later in the year
  • we used them “au naturel” in salads
  • lastly, and least successfully as we left them in the sun too long, we dried the remainder

We’d heartily recommend that you gather some next year if you have access to wild garlic or are staying at the farm. But remember the forager’s rule: never take more than a third so you leave plenty to regenerate.

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