Anyone who’s walked through a wood and smelt that distinctive onion-y smell has been near one of the commonest, but little used, wild foods. Wild Garlic (Alium ursinum) or ransoms is common in woods all over the UK. There are usually plenty of them – they spread rapidly once they’re established.
Ransoms have glossy flopped-over, rabbit-ear shaped leaves and white, star-shaped flowers. They’re easy to identify, because you’ll be able to smell them. Fortunately, they don’t taste nearly as strong as they smell!
Unlike cultivated garlic, the bulbs are very small and not worth bothering with. Just cut some leaves at the base without disturbing the plant. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
I think the best uses for them are the simplest: an omelette made with your freshest eggs with some garlic leaves snipped into them.
For something more substantial:
Wild Garlic and Potato Soup
couple of handfuls of wild garlic leaves
2 medium-sized potatoes
800 ml of chicken or vegetable stock
salt & pepper
Melt the butter in your soup pot. Roll the leaves, cigar-fashion, and then slice across into strips. Add them to the pot and put the lid on. Let them soften in the butter while you peel and chop the potatoes into cubes. When the leaves are wilted add the potatoes and the stock. Bring up to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are really soft. If you like, add a spoonful of cream and liquidize the soup.
They’re also good in Chinese-style stir frys with some ginger and a splash of soy sauce.
Ransoms have the same health benefits as cultivated garlic, in fact they are thought to be superior. Tucking in might also keep away those troublesome midges (see blog http://www.woodlands.co.uk/blog/wildlife/midges-mosquitoes-and-marmite-coping-with-insects-in-woodlands/) !
Does anyone know if you can use the flowers and seeds like you can with chives?