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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, 19 April 2013

Foraged Food Friday: Wild Garlic

Last year, I was very excited to discover wild garlic growing by the stream that runs along the edge of my garden.

Wild garlic (Allium ursinum), also known as ramsons

Then we had floods, and when I next checked that spot, I was very sad to see the stones scoured clean by the water - all dirt, and presumably plants, washed away. However, going back for another look earlier this week...

They're back! Though the moss and other plants have gone, ramsons are coming up around the stones. Last year's photo was taken on 9th March, whereas this is 15th April. The cold weather we've had has really set things back this year.

... all is not lost! Wild garlic is growing, if anything, even more abundantly than it was last year. I don't know whether they survived as bulbs or seeds, but evidently it takes more than torrential flood water to shift wild garlic.

I picked a few leaves to go in a salad (along with navelwort, sorrel, and cold chicken and potato). In fact, in my excitement I picked about three times as much as I needed. Ramsons, unsurprisingly, do taste a lot more garlicky than Jack-by-the-hedge. I had the rest on pizza, later in the day, which was very nice, as was the chicken and garlic soup I had yesterday. I really like wild garlic a lot.

Also harvesting this week:
Dandelion flowers, to dry for tea

Also eating this week:
Crab apple and rowan jelly

Also drinking:
Blackcurrant wine
Sloe wine
Blackcurrant cordial
Dandelion root coffee

Foraged food challenge summary page here.


  1. OK... I once heard that wild garlic is poisonous. Is this just plain wrong, or are there different kinds?

    1. I don't know. I've never heard of any different kinds and this kind certainly isn't poisonous - I've been eating large handfuls of this all week. I haven't heard of any of the allium family being poisonous, though that doesn't mean there isn't a poisonous relative that I haven't heard of.

    2. Well, this information came from my father who is a tad bit on the crazy side, especially when it comes to things that are dangerous! I think he believes that the whole world is one big trap waiting to do him in!

      Anyhow, I'm much more inclined to believe you than I am to believe him. So perhaps I won't worry about harvesting the garlic that has come up in the garden... it's just leftovers from previous plantings anyhow, but some little part of my brain was worried that it had "gone wild" and turned poisonous. Oh the joys of growing up with paranoia as a constant companion!

    3. OK, bearing in mind that you're on a different continent from me, I did a little research. Well, I got as far as Wikipedia...

      I found Allium vineale, which apparently doesn't taste so good, and Allium canadense, which can give small children stomach upsets. I guess it may be the latter that your father had heard about. It sounds like, at worst, it's only a tiny bit poisonous.

      I then had the bright idea of googling "Poisonous allium species" and found this extract which lists all parts of all alliums as poisonous, then advises on how to use them in cooking!

      I also found this page which I simply don't believe. It doesn't identify which species it's talking about (just Allium spp. which, when I looked it up, means "Allium, various") and I don't think, "Certain species of Allium are consumed by humans with no side effects." quite covers the huge culinary contribution of this plant family! I checked the references and they all relate to non-human animals. It is very misleading to imply that these plants are also poisonous to humans.

      I think your father can be forgiven for believing that wild garlic is poisonous, with this kind of misinformation out there, but I'm pretty sure it's actually safe (at least for humans, if not for cats). In any case, I certainly wouldn't worry about your feral garlic!

  2. I love wild garlic but got carried away a few years ago when seeing how pretty they were when they flowered. I put a huge jug full on the kitchen table and went away for a couple of days. When I returned the whole house smelled like a cattery! Wont make that mistake again. :-)I must go up the lane opposite and have a look if ours is out yet. Thanks for the reminder Rachel.

  3. I love Ramsons too- excellent 'pesto' and garlic butter.


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