Wild Garlic from the Banks of the River Swale

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WHILST walking along the river in Richmond, we happened upon masses and masses of wild garlic, A leafy green herb with the unmistakable scent of garlic, it grows in large sprays along the River Swale and many other woodland locations around the UK.

We picked a load and carted it off home to experiment. I came up with three recipes which I will share with you over the next couple of weeks but, unsurprisingly, wild garlic grows in the… Well, in the wild. So I thought it would be a good idea to put together a short guide to picking your own as the season is fairly short and it’s not something you can generally buy from the shops – it would be a shame for you to miss out!

Lucky for me, my husband is the rugged adventurous type. A man of the wild by name and by nature. In short, he knows his stuff when it comes to the great outdoors. Ideally, if you are doing any sort of foraging you would do it with an experienced guide, particularly if anything like mushrooms are involved.

However, wild garlic is easy to spot, easy to pick and grows in abundance so it is relatively safe to pick on your own.

Mr Wild’s Guide to Foraging for Wild Garlic

  • Wild Garlic grows in cool, shady and damp soil oftentimes near a river or stream. It grows in big bunches of bright green leaves and, when flowering, has delicate white flowers.
  • It smells distinctly like garlic, sometimes you can smell it while walking through a wood. Look out for green leaves sprouting from the ground.
  • When picked, the root looks similar to that of a spring onion.
  • The shape of the leaf is long and tapered and it grows straight out of the ground – NOT off a tree or shrub.
  • When you come across wild garlic, I think it looks like a big green ‘carpet’ as it grows in large masses.
  •  Warning: wild garlic is not to be mistaken with lily of the valley, which is poisonous and unfortunately grows in similar locations. It is also leafy and green with white flowers. As stated, wild garlic has a very distinctive scent – If in doubt, don’t chance it.

This is a VERY rough guide to picking your own wild garlic. If you wish to do more expansive foraging then I strongly suggest that you seek the guidance of an expert.

Always thoroughly wash your wild garlic before using.

Click here to see Delicious Magazine‘s article on finding wild garlic for a more comprehensive look.

Stuck for what to do? Look out for my recipes for wild garlic pesto, wild garlic and rosemary butter and wild garlic gnocchi coming to A Pinch of Wild soon! 

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