Saturday, May 15, 2010


In celebration of last month's wild garlic - now on it's last legs - guest blogger, Matilda Moreton, shows us how it's done with some snaps of her foraging finds and her wild garlic pesto:

Now that spring is truly upon us, hail storms and all, you have the opportunity to gather the first of this year’s bounteous wild harvests on Hampstead Heath …

Wild Garlic (Allium Ursinum), also known as Ramsoms, is not hard to identify - it is unmistakable by its smell. The all-pervasive whiff of garlic that follows you through the woods might daunt you, but in fact the leaves can be used in large quantities as the taste is not as strong as the smell.

Take a look in the damp, shady parts of the Heath, along walls and hedgerows, beside streams or ditches. The plants are also distinguishable by their flowers - umbels of bright white stars that shine out from the dim woodland carpet. You will have to wait a few weeks for the flowers but the broad floppy leaves are just appearing now in great quantities and will last through till May.

For my wild garlic feast this year I was on one wheel in between Easter trips here and there and did not have many ingredients to hand, so decided to scrunch and chop the leaves and bottle them down in olive oil to be enjoyed on my return. Here, the essence is to hold the tip of the knife down hard with the left hand and chop the pile of leaves like crazy with the right, stopping before the garlic has turned to pulp. Hey presto - pesto! The nuts and parmesan are entirely optional – the main point being only to preserve the garlic for later.

I also did just have time to make a fresh lunch of wild garlic toast that was greeted with applause by hungry travellers. Just back from France, we happened to have a stash of the delectable grey Guerande salt, that my friends in Brittany had pressed into their pat of butter - so once the garlic leaves were chopped up they were squidged into the butter with some of the magic grit and spread on toast – et voila – the best things are so simple…

Crunchy garlic flower salad

1 crunchy cos or romaine lettuce

1 handful of chopped assorted wild garlic leaves

A few small leaves of garlic mustard

1 handful of assorted garlic (and garlic mustard) flowers

1 crunchy cucumber

A dash of blue cheese perhaps?

And highly recommended with fish on Friday!



  1. If you have a story, or photos like Mattie, send them to and I'll put them up for all to admire! xx

  2. When I lived in Dorset, we used to put garlic leaves into our cheese was delicious. Never thought of pesto, but think it's worth a shot if I can find a source of wild garlic near our new pad!

  3. Ooh and I've read that the garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), the third picture from the top can be made into a sauce to eat with roast lamb! Native flora....what a wealth of culinary opportunities for the brave! x

  4. Driving down the avenue of trees in Swainston on the Isle of Wight, you get bamboozled with the garlic scent of the leaves. A real sense that Spring is in full swing ... x