Will's Wild Food Diary

 Wild food diary

Fresh, organic and free! Of all things bushcrafty, nothing gets me more excited than a foraging adventure.

From time to time, I update this page with a different wild food that is in season- gradually building up an online reference on some of the foraging delights available to us.

In addition, I write a 'Wild in the kitchen' blog for the UK's leading site for professional chefs. 

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Disclaimer: There's loads of good stuff to eat out there and much of it is very easy to identify. Unfortunatly, there are also some plants and fungi that can make you seriously ill or worse. This diary is a brief overview intended to inspire and not a substitute for a good field guide and teacher. I will endeavour to point out any obvious poisionous look alikes but ultimately foraging is the individual's responsibility. Unless you are 100 percent confident you know what something is then leave it alone! Please also be aware that, as with any food, different people can have different reactions so it is good practice to always try just a small amount first.

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Category: Hedge garlic

  1. Living on the hedge

    Posted on

    Perhaps it's time to publish a survivalist guide to vampire evasion as this will be the third wild garlic I've covered in theHedge garlic 2 last few years- the other two being ramson and crow garlic.

    This time around I thought I'd chat about probably one of the most common of them all- the hedge garlic (Alliaria petiolata).

    It's often present all winter but in the last few weeks it's started to stretch towards the light and make itself known. The photo to the right was taken in April so it's still got a way to go. *

    I should say at this point that, strictly speaking, this plant belongs to the brassica family and not the alliums like the other garlics. Nevertheless, it has an undeniable garlic taste- all be it with a distinct fire that can take some getting used to- another name is garlic mustard which is a pretty accurate description I reckon. **

    It’s rather puzzling why a humble cabbage should have such flavorsome ambitions but it may well have figured out a long time ago that grazing animals generally don’t like garlic. Unfortunately however, it didn’t take into consideration the human palate- this plant has been used as a flavouring for millenia, with remains turning up in archaelogical digs in the Baltic dating back to 4000 BC.

    Other than a quick stir fry, I prefer to eat this plant raw- a few leaves chopped finely and added to a dressing really perks up a mixed salad while I'll  often pick a few and pop them in a sandwich as I’m out and about.

    Hedge Garlic drawingWhether it's hedgerow, forest edge or even urban parks or flower beds it's not hard to find once you have 'your eye in'. Compare this to the rather contrary ransom or the secretive crow garlic and this becomes a handy plant to know.

    As with the true garlics, smell is a useful id point- just crush a leaf between your fingers. Other things to look out for include the kidney shaped leaf with rounded, almost frilly, teeth- the sketch to the left was drawn by someone on one of my walks a while go and I couldn't resist a shot. 

    * Hedge garlic is a biennial. In the first year, plants appear as a rosette of green leaves close to the ground and are quite easy to miss. In the second year the plant shoots up, often reaching over 60 cm tall if conditions are right- although it's fairly bitter when it's this size.

    * Other colloquial names are 'jack by the hedge' and 'sauce alone.'