What Does Wild Garlic Look Like
Wild garlic looks like a small, green plant with long, thin leaves. The leaves are often tinged with purple, and the plant produces small white flowers. Wild garlic grows in damp, shady places, and is often found in woods or near streams.It has an extreme garlicy smell as well.
Wild garlic leaves emit individually from each stalk (though it is not always easily seen) and frequently turn from pale green to white as they travel down the stalk (this is also not always evident). Look for the distinctive features Wild garlic, Allium ursinum, has leaves forming near the base of the plant, while lily of the valley may have two or more leaves on the stem, dividing it up farther up the plant. In full flower, wild garlic has deep green, broad, pointy leaves, with a single blooming stalk producing star-shaped white flowers, somewhat resembling a snowdrop. Wild garlic loves moist soil, where it will regrow abundantly, hundreds of green leaves growing from a single green stalk.
Wild garlic is identifiable by its green, lance-shaped leaves, and the beautiful, white star-shaped flowers that grow in clusters. If foraging wild garlic, remember that it looks like Lily of the Valley plants, which are toxic, but one swipe at the leaves (and a quick sniff) will tell you what it is, so you are not likely to confuse the two. The leaves may look slightly similar to the lily of the valley plants, which are poisonous, but the lily of the valley does not smell like garlic after being rubbed. Allium ursinum is made of a bulb with fairly long stalks, long leaves, and white flowers, has incredibly pungent odor, and tastes just like garlic, but milder.
Wild garlic has a milder flavor than conventional bulb garlic, and the green, pointy leaves, and white flowers of this perennial flowering bulbous plant are easily identified, making it a great first foray into foraging. Do not harvest wild garlic with lots of white flowers, because this indicates older leaves, which are likely to have slightly woody, bitter flavors. Picked wild garlic leaves will last for 3-4 days in this manner, but flowers are best used on the day that they are picked.
Carefully, pull off a handful of leaves without rooting the bulb, then mix with or chop them up and use as you would garlic. If you want to keep the bulbs in the ground to make garlic regrow, simply cut what you need off with a pair of scissors. If your cloves are born garlic, they will have the longest stalks left, put the bundles into big glasses filled with water and store them in the refrigerator.
Crush one of the leaves in your hands, and it should have a strong smell of garlic. On a slightly sunny day too, where the sun would warm up the leaves, there is occasionally garlic flavor; you might smell it before seeing it.
The leaves grow out from the plant base and bulbs, and they smell strongly of garlic. Leaves may also be used in pesto instead of basil or other herbs, or in a sauce to add a subtle garlic flavor. Leaves can also be cooked, but they are best cooked for as little time as possible, since they will quickly lose their mild flavor. The leaves are not so pretty once they are defrosted — kind of like rotten lettuce.
The leaves are at their tenderest and tastiest before the plants flower. Once the flowers do not appear, the leaves are harder and less flavourful. The flowers then fall to seeds, leaving the leaves bitter, but the seeds can be eaten raw as well, or pickled as in a pickle.
The underground bulbs (which you will need to get permission to pull) can be treated as small onions or carots, the first few sprouts can be used as salad leaves or scattered herbs, the larger leaves can be chopped up and eaten raw or cooked as spinach, the stalks can be used like a thicker chives, the flowers are a nice garnish, and the seed pods give salads a kick, or they can be picked up like a caper for later in the year. Young leaves, flowers and seed pods can simply be added to salads, while flower stalks can be used like chives. The stems, buds and flowers are strongly aromatic, making them useful both raw or cooked. Flowers and tender young leaves, used sparingly, are very nice in salads.
You can eat young leaves and flowers raw in a salad, or use them as lettuce leaves on a bun (Roast Chicken, Mayonnaise, & Wild Garlic is a favorite at our house). Big leaves can be wilted, as with spinach, or blended in butter, pesto, or sauce. Domesticated garlic has firm leaves, whereas wild onions leaves are spongy, like onions.
While domesticated garlic is grown mostly for its big bulbs, wild garlic has tiny bulbs, with the tall, skinny, onion-like leaves being the real prize. The bulbs are edible, but are extremely small and tasteless, in contrast to the garlic that is grown commercially. The bulb is a modified stem from a leaf, and is much like our daily bulb garlic, though it is probably worthwhile leaving a bulb in place if there is a lot of wild garlic in your patch.
Individual plants are larger in general, and since they grow individually, bulbs are easier to remove. The leaves on these plants are more rough-textured than those on cloved garlic, so less useful as a herb. These plants have smaller bulbs, and thin, delicate leaves, which are very similar to grass, except a little darker. You do not get many views of the flowers of field garlic, if for no other reason than that plants are generally cut before they can bloom.
You can pick wild garlic leaves left around February-May in North America and northern Europe, harvest beautiful ones May-June, and pull bulbs from June-December. Fall Crocus, Arum maculatum (such as the Cuckoos Pint, Lord-and-Lady, etc), Solomons Seal, and Wild Tulips may also be picked incorrectly in place of garlic. Leaves could potentially be confused both with the poisonous leaves of the Lilly of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) and of the lords-and-ladies (Arum maculatum), though neither smells like garlic. We are fortunate enough to have masses of wild garlic in huge quantities near us along the Cuckoo Trail, just steps away from where we live. The leafy, green stems of wild garlic are similar to many other spring foliage vegetation, not all of which is safe for eating.
What is the difference between garlic and wild garlic?
Although it is not as strong or fragrant as garlic cloves, wild garlic nevertheless has a distinct garlic flavour. Squeeze a leaf lightly before taking a whiff; it will smell garlicky. The leaves have a strong scent, but when used in cooking, they have a delicate and sweeter flavour than you may anticipate.
How can you tell if wild garlic is edible?
The flowers are often pinkish-purple and develop in big, spherical clusters. Of course, the easiest way to be certain you have an edible allium on your hands is to break off a leaf and take a sniff. It is okay to eat anything that has a garlicky aroma.
How can you tell the difference between wild garlic and wild onions?
Their leaves are the most straightforward way to distinguish them. Wild onion has flat, firm leaves, while wild garlic has hollow leaves. They both stand out in lawns, where they typically grow more quickly than the surrounding grass. Both species are under the same control.