Wild garlic, also called ramsons or wood garlic, form fragrant spring carpets in woodland areas. We picked bagfuls yesterday and then made a feast of garlic flower fritters followed by garlic pesto pasta. They are easy to find, just follow the smell of garlic in the air and look for their shiny ovate leaves and white balls of little star-shaped flowers.
The plant is related to chives, and the leaves are much milder than bulb garlic and can be eaten raw. The flowers are also edible and have a peppery flavour. For these fritters, I like to enrich my batter with a bit of coconut milk but you can make the batter without it. Wild garlic has a short season, so we like to make the most of them. I’ve listed more ways to use them below this recipe.
150g plain flour
100ml coconut milk (use water if you prefer)
100ml ice cold water
1 tsp salt
a dash of soy sauce
Heat vegetable oil in a wok or deep pan to sizzling hot while you mix the batter.
Just before serving, beat the egg thoroughly in a bowl, add the coconut milk and the iced water and sift in the flour, salt and soy. Stir gently, then dip the flower heads one or two at a time into the batter. Shake off excess batter.
Wear rubber gloves or an oven glove, hold the end of the stem and dip the flower head in the hot oil (being careful 180C!) until lightly browned. Remove to a paper towel to drain for a moment. Then place on a platter and serve with dipping bowls of soy, sweet chilli sauce or garlic mayo.
Pesto – Whizz the leaves with pine nuts, grated Parmesan and olive oil to make pesto. Or add pancetta, egg to make a variation of wild garlic carbonara.
Rice – Wild garlic risotto
Mash – Chop the leaves and mix them into mashed potato.
Fish – Wrap the leaves around fillets of buttered trout and bake gently in the oven. They also work well with smoked fish.
Mayo – Chop the leaves into sour cream or fresh mayonnaise and use as a dip
Salad – Use whole leaves in salads and decorate with the flowers.
Sandwiches – Add the leaves to cheese or ham and mustard sandwiches.
Soup – Wild Garlic and potato soup.
Spinach – steam with spinach they can be a bit watery steamed alone.
Puree – puree with oil and use as a drizzle or dressing.
Scrambled eggs – chopped into creamy scrambled eggs, divine.
Butter – flavour butter with chopped leaves.
Frittata – one of the best
Hummus – tahini, chickpeas, wild garlic
Cream cheese – chop into cream cheese, reform and wrap the cheese in the leaves. Slice.
The origins of many place names such as Ramsey Common, Ramsdale and Ramsbottom are derived from this old English word, Ramson and were named for their abundant growth of wild garlic. It’s a sign of our times that so many are now covered in concrete.