Wild garlic is a perennial European herb that grows from a very small bulb.
It has a chive-like taste, only stronger and with a hint of garlic. The smell, though, is more clearly that of garlic.
It is not cultivated, but rather gathered from the wild, where the plants will spread out to cover wide areas, particularly shady, damp ones.
Wild garlic grows to a height of 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) with two broad leaves. It produces white star-shaped flowers from April to June. The leaves start to turn yellow and die back as the flowers produce small berries.
The leaves should be gathered young, before the plant has started to flower. The bulb underground can be used, but it is so small that it’s more often just ignored.
Cows shouldn’t eat wild garlic as the smell will affect their milk.
It is similar to ramps in North America, but the flavour of ramps tends more to that of onion. Visually, the difference is that with ramps the leaves will back before the flowers appear, whereas with wild garlic the leaves only die back when the berries begin to appear.
Cut out the tougher central stems. To use it raw (see health cautions below), you can mix it in salads with other greens, and add the leaves to sandwiches, or to soups and sauces at the end of cooking.
When used in cooking, the leaves should not be exposed to high heat: add at the end of cooking.
Some people like to use the buds and the flowers in salad.
Wild garlic is sometimes mistaken for Meadow Saffron, Lily of the Valley, and Autumn Crocus, which are poisonous.
Some people advise that all wild garlic should be cooked: there could be tapeworm eggs or liver flukes on them, which you won’t be able to see.
Dried leaves lose a great deal of the scent. They are better frozen.
Native to Europe.
The English word “Ramson” comes from the old English, “hramsan.” Another of its names, “Bear’s Garlic”, comes from a common belief that bears would eat it in the spring.