Foraging is something that has fascinated me for a long time, but something I have always been a bit afraid off. Natures larder (hedge rows, woodlands etc) is full of goodies, but there are a lot of nasties out there too.
A number of years ago I spent a fantastic day at the home of Chef Simon Dougan of Yellow Door fame. We spent some of the morning foraging in nearby hedgerows and then Simon used what we found to cook a number of dishes! I was amazed at what could be done with what most people consider to be weeds.
So, recently I thought I would start with something that grows in abundance at this time of year. Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum). So I packed my camera and a plastic bag and headed to Gosford Forest Park in Markethill. I parked to the left of the main car park and walked down the path towards the river. I was greeted by a pungent earthy smell that would put a smile on anybodies face! Truly wonderful!
Apart from the smell and beauty of this wild herb, I was once again reminded of the natural beauty on our doorstep that we often don’t make sufficient use off. Gosford Forest Park is stunning at this time of year when there is so much in bloom. I have no doubt there are loads more forageable tasties on offer that I don’t as yet have the knowledge to search for, but I’m working on it.
The good thing about wild garlic is that none of it needs to be wasted. The leaves can be eaten in salads, used as a herb or boiled as a vegetable for soups etc. Preserving the stalks in salt is typical in Russia. However, the most well known use of the leaves is in wild garlic pesto, where basil is replaced with wild garlic. Delicious.
Check out my recipe for Wild Garlic Pesto
WARNING: Wild Garlic leaves are very similar to the poisonous leaves found on Lily of the Valley! Rub a leave between your fingers and you will smell the characteristic garlic smell if it is wild garlic.