Thursday 19 June 2014

Foraging for Wild Garlic

A few weeks ago, I dragged Dave and Lucas out for an early morning walk in the woods to forage some wild garlic.  After discovering a veritable sea of wild garlic at Arnos Vale Cemetery, I've had it on my mind ever since.  Arnos Vale were quite happy for me to pick their wild garlic, but it felt a bit wrong to pick it from the old graves it was growing over--it would be like eating our ancestors--so I asked around and came up with Baddock's Wood in Westbury-on-Trym as a prime spot for wild garlic.

They weren't kidding.  There was wild garlic as far as the eye could see!

I was planning to do all the picking myself, but Lucas got really enthusiastic about it so I let him carry on and watched as he scrambled up and down slopes looking for the biggest, glossiest leaves he could find.  He filled a carrier bag--I really need to get a trug for more idyllic foraging gear--before we called it a day and zoomed home to turn the leaves into pesto.  (The leaves wilt quickly, so ideally need to be used within an hour.)

Astonishingly, Lucas turned out to be the biggest fan of the wild garlic pesto!  He ate loads of it, slathered in ham sandwiches in place of chutney or mustard, tossed into gnocchi and in pasta, too.  Dave and I liked it, but by comparison, Lucas was nuts about it!  Maybe it was because he foraged for it himself?  Either way, I'm very proud of my little gourmet!

Bouquet of wild garlic flowers
Bouquet of wild garlic flowers

Wild Garlic Pesto

For every 100g of wild garlic leaves
150ml olive oil
1 small clove of garlic
50g toasted pine nuts
50g grated parmesan
salt and pepper

Check through the wild garlic leaves, picking out the ones that are nibbled, brown at the edges, or have an excess of nature on them, ie bird poo.  Put in a colander and wash really well.

Fill a large bowl with ice cold water. Blanch the wild garlic for 30 seconds in a pan of boiling water. Drain and plunge into the cold water until cool.  Drain and then dry on a clean tea towel.

Chop the wild garlic roughly and put in a blender or food processor.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blitz until a paste forms.  Taste and adjust seasoning as required.

Use in exactly the same way as regular basil pesto!  Store in the fridge and eat within a week.



  1. I love that expression 'excess of nature', I'm going to use it whenever I can, it may become inappropriate:)
    I also love the photo of Lucas doing a little happy skip. That is one seriously joyful little spirit you gave there.

  2. This sounds like a great thing to do! :) Looks like Lucas had a brilliant time as well x


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