Ever since attending a ‘gourmet wild food weekend’ with Fat Hen near St Buryan last year, I’ve been full of the joys of wild garlic, or three-cornered leek (or Allium triquetrum if you really want to get serious).
This ubiquitous and pleasantly pungent plant (different to the UK’s native wild garlic, Ramsons, which we don’t really get in Penwith) is all over west Cornwall in spring – and is currently bullying its way into a hedgerow near you.
Those fretting about upsetting the ecological balance by foraging should take comfort in the fact that Cornwall Council considers wild garlic a problem species and is actually directing funds to clearing it in some areas.
Foraging for food is a nervy business for beginners – and clearly you need to ensure a positive identification before chowing down – but you can take it from this very twitchy forager that wild garlic is easy to identify. For one, it stinks!
Identification: it has a triangular stem (hence three-cornered), white bell-like flowers with a thin green strip down in the middle (see picture above), and a strong garlicky-onion scent if you break a stem or rub a flower. More tips here.
Clump of wild garlic duly acquired, I emailed professional forager (nice job title) Caroline Davey of Fat Hen for advice on what to concoct with this pungent pest.
‘I use the leaves in risottos, sauces, salads, pestos, soups and for flavouring olive oil. The flowers are great as a garnish in salads and soups, and I pickle the bulbs and flower buds.’
I’ll be graduating to this recipe she sent me soon hopefully:
‘I just made a delicious sauce which went with a laver seaweed cake – or it’s just as good with fish. Here’s the recipe:
Mussel, cider and wild garlic sauce (serves 4)
- 20 mussels
- 1 cup mussel stock
- 1 cup cider
- 1 cup cream
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp English mustard
- large handful of wild garlic
- -Steam the mussels and use the mussel stock as your base for the sauce.
- -Put your mussels to one side.
- -Reduce by half.
- -Add cider and reduce by half.
- -Add your cream and reduce by half.
- -Add a tsp of English mustard.
- -Add your mussels.
- -Season and just before serving add your chopped up wild garlic.