About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Foraged Food Friday: Garlic mustard

A friend recommended this plant to me last spring, and in May I found a plant in my garden that looked very much like the picture in my book...

Looking similar

... but the leaves didn't taste of anything very much.

The other day I noticed these plants coming up again...

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), also called Jack-by-the-hedge

... and tasted a leaf (note: This method of plant identification is not recommended). This time I could taste both garlic and mustard quite distinctly, though neither was very strong. I wonder if the older plant I tried last year was just so much milder that I couldn't detect the distinctive flavours.

Having positively identified the plant, I picked a handful of leaves yesterday and added them to leftover soup (the leftovers being mostly mashed potato and gravy) along with nettles, celandine and a little ground elder, just because there's so much of it around at the moment. The soup was nice, though I can't say I particularly tasted garlic and mustard, but then if I'd added those two spices separately, I wouldn't expect the flavours to stand out in a soup like that.

I think this one's a useful herb.

Also harvesting this week:
Ground elder
Leek (just one, so small that I previously mistook it for grass)

Also drinking this week:
Blackberry wine

Foraged food challenge summary page here.


  1. I think I saw a G. Mustard (I call them Jack by the Hedge) coming up recently but I have another plant which is quite similar so I usually wait until I see a load of the plants all starting to leaf up until I know for sure. I'm 50/50 on whether I like this one. I like the garlicy taste but not the bitterness. But I do chuck a few leaves in a salad sometimes. And by the way I did look at your nettle post but do you know I have still never, ever tried nettles? I'm too much of a wuss. lol
    See you found another leek to stave off your hunger ;-)

    1. I'm thinking of trying this in mayonnaise - Delia's recipe, at least, includes both garlic and mustard, so this might work well.

      You really should try nettles. Not that they're a great delicacy or anything, but they're so abundant! You can always poke the cooked leaves with a finger to prove they're not going to sting you (and when you see them well cooked, I don't think you'll even be worried any more).

  2. Jack by the Hedge is taking over my garden, but it's a good food plant for Orange Tip butterflies, so I feel I'm helping them a bit, and anyway I weed it out by eating it.

    I find the flavour doesn't survive heating all that well, so I tend to use a few leaves in salads and sandwiches. It makes a reasonably garlicky pesto, though it can be quite bitter, so mixing it with another green is probably a good idea, or use in in something with a definite flavour/creaminess like soft cheese rather than something as bland a pasta.
    I tried ground almonds this time as it's what I had, but it had a slightly marzipan flavour which was a bit peculiar!
    I made pasta pesto with it, which didn't all get eaten, so I recycled it as a frittata, with a bit of mint and a few chives for good measure and that was much more successful, as was adding it to (broad bean)humus or cream cheese wraps.


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