'Tis the Wild Garlic Season!

'Tis the Wild Garlic Season!

What's that story about wood warming you three times? I'm sure there's a similar allegory which could be applied to wild garlic; there is just so much to love about this aromatic allium. The appearance on the roadsides of the distinctive glossy, green leaves heralds the end of the 'hungry gap'. Food is growing again, and this one is wild and free! 

JP Mc Mahon calls wild garlic the 'gateway drug' for foragers.  A friend, who had never foraged before, asked me not to 'feed him for a day' by giving it to him, but rather, show him what, where, and how to do it. As JP points out, the smell is so easily recognised that it is no bother to find.  The wonderful, pungent aroma comes up to meet you as you walk into the forest, damp woodland being its ideal home.

This is just the beginning of the many joys of wild garlic: you're having a beautiful walk! The sensory pleasure of that aroma is like an amuse bouche, well, amuse nez really, of what's to come.The setting in which the wild garlic grows is usually beautiful, and on a sunny evening with light dappling through the trees, it is joyful.

Picking the garlic is a great activity to do with children and a lovely way to involve them in the whole process of a meal, from field to fork. The health benefits of wild garlic are another plus- it is mildly antibacterial, helps encourage good gut health, and has high levels of folic acid.

The dark, spear-shaped leaves lushly carpet forest floors from about February, followed in April by spiky, white flowers. It is all edible. The leaves are generally used for pesto or flavoured oil, the flowers in salads, or just to admire.

Going home with your bag of perfumed goodness, you’re already feeling wholesome and connected to nature, and there's still all that deliciousness to come.

My favourite dinner at this time of year is simply pasta with wild garlic pesto, but this time, I’m going to make risotto with asparagus, now making its tantalisingly short-lived Irish appearance.

The crisp whites of the Loire Valley are the ideal accompaniment. From the grassy Sauvignons of Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and Touraine, through the intense Chenins of the Vouvray area,  to the tingly minerality of Muscadet, these vibrant wines sing in perfect harmony with our other green national icon.


Wild Garlic Pesto

30g wild garlic

100g nuts, such as pine, almonds, hazelnuts

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

50g hard cheese, such as Parmesan, pecorino, or Cheddar


Toast nuts or seeds, then whizz in a blender.

Add wild garlic leaves and olive oil and whizz again with a good pinch of salt.

Stir in grated cheese.



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