Recognize the wild garlic without a doubt
The typical smell of wild garlic only spreads in the forest when the plants die off in summer, before you have to recognize it by its elliptical-lanceolate leaves or the white inflorescences. In many places wild garlic can be found in the shady depressions of deciduous forests. However, there is a danger that some poisonous plants sometimes look confusingly similar to wild garlic. This applies primarily to the following plants, which also have similar location requirements as wild garlic:
- Autumn crocus
- Spotted Aaron staff
- lily of the valley
- Wild garlic for the kitchen: harvest time and interesting facts
- Still harvest wild garlic after flowering or not?
- Harvest the wild garlic seeds and use them for propagation
Even within wild garlic stocks, these plants can be neighbors and thus represent a danger that should not be underestimated. Therefore, when collecting the leaves, you should regularly carry out an odor test and grind pieces of leaf between your fingers in order to be able to identify the wild garlic unequivocally via the intense, garlic-like smell.
Preserve the stocks in the garden
Collecting wild garlic in your own garden offers a certain protection against poisoning, as long as your garden is free of the poisonous doppelgangers of wild garlic. In addition, wild garlic leaves from your own garden are usually not contaminated with the pathogens of the dangerous fox tapeworm if they are adequately fenced. In terms of safety, however, it does not harm to rinse wild garlic leaves and flowers thoroughly with hot water before consuming them raw. If you need dry wild garlic for further processing or for various storage methods, you can pat the harvested wild garlic leaves dry with a soft cloth or paper towel. If the wild garlic stocks in your own garden are still young, it is important to protect the stock,so that it can regenerate and spread further through its own reproduction. Therefore, always leave at least half of the leaves in one location, as these are essential for the energy balance of the plants and for the survival of the wild garlic bulbs for the next season. If you also allow some plants to flower, you can sometimes benefit from self-sowing the seeds.
The usable parts of the wild garlic plant
Basically, all parts of the plant of wild garlic are non-toxic and can therefore also be used raw or cooked. Since the flowers often have a particularly intense taste, consuming them is a matter of taste. A delicacy can be made from the still unopened wild garlic buds if you harvest them in time in March or April. Put them in vinegar like capers so that, after a few weeks of ripening, you can enjoy a tasty side dish with a gentle garlic flavor.
The right time to harvest wild garlic: when to pick?
Basically, the taste of the leaves in March and April is of a pleasant intensity, especially in the fresh green, young leaves. Although the taste, which later becomes increasingly intense, migrates from the leaves to the wild garlic flowers from the time of flowering, the leaves then also become increasingly fibrous and therefore less suitable for consumption. In addition, if the leaves are to be dried for storage, you should not wait for the harvest to dry. Plants that are adequately moisturized have a better and more intense wild garlic taste than almost dried-out specimens.
Keep wild garlic fresh after harvest
Since wild garlic begins to wither very quickly after being picked, it should be freshly processed within a few days. So that the leaves do not dry out during transport, they should be wrapped with a damp cloth to protect them from drying out. Transporting them in an inflated freezer bag with a few drops of water not only keeps the wild garlic leaves fresh, but also protects the sensitive leaves from injuries caused by squeezing. Even if stored in the refrigerator, damp cloths or a freezer bag with moisture can extend the shelf life by a day or two. In addition, the airtight storage of wild garlic in the refrigerator prevents the intense smell from spreading to other foods. Since the wild garlic loses much of its fine aroma when dryingyou'd better freeze leftover amounts from collecting.
The different uses of wild garlic in the kitchen
Immediately after picking, the wild garlic can be processed into the following intermediate products in order to extend the shelf life at the same time:
- Wild Garlic butter
- Wild garlic salt
- Wild garlic oil
Examples of dishes prepared directly from fresh wild garlic are:
- Wild garlic pesto
- wild garlic soup
- Dips with wild garlic seasoning
Tips & Tricks
When harvesting wild garlic in the wild, you should choose locations where contamination with dog feces or similar impurities can be excluded. Nevertheless, due to the fox tapeworm, thorough cleaning of the picked leaves before eating them raw is urgently recommended.