27th Apr 2012

Gourmet Adventures on Gower…

With Dryad Bushcraft and the  Marmalade Cookery School

Food Styling & Photography by Jon Lewin

Mushrooms aside, wild garlic or ramsons as they are otherwise known, have got to be one of my favourite foraged foods. It is available on my doorstep year after year and in great abundance too. There are a few impostors such as Convallaria majalis, or the Lily of the Valley, which is a poisonous woodland flowering plant native throughout the cool temperate climate of the UK, but If you’re unsure of what you’ve found, the real test is its smell. To make sure, I tend to crush the leaves and then you can really smell its garlicy scent.

Wild garlic grows in many different places and climates but here on Gower it tends to grow in early Spring in deciduous woodlands where the soil is moist, preferring slightly shady spots with slightly acidic soil conditions.

It can be chopped up and eaten raw, in fresh salads, or cooked in a variety of different dishes, including Tatiana’s Creamy Wild Garlic Soup. (See below)

Wild garlic has a very distinctive and unique flavour. It is best picked early in the season before the flowers begin to bloom, as by this time the leaves become tougher and slightly bitter in taste. It is better to pick loads when they are still young and freeze them for use throughout the rest of the year.

Aside from its culinary uses, wild garlic has many medicinal benefits including helping to control, or in some cases, eliminate problems faced by people with high blood pressure.

Here’s a few shots from our recent adventures plus Tatiana’s recipe for Creamy Wild Garlic Soup…enjoy!

400g wild garlic, washed and chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
1.4 L of good chicken stock
300ml of double cream
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of bread
2 handfuls of grated cheddar cheese

Get a heavy bottom saucepan, big enough to hold all the liquid, place it on a medium heat and add the olive oil. Add your chopped onions and celery to the pan and gently fry until the onions start to become transparent.
Add your wild garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Once the wild garlic starts to reduce add the chicken stock and bring it to the boil. Place the lid and cook for 10 minutes.
In the meanwhile turn your grill on. Divide the cheese into four and place it on the bread. Place i under the grill just until it melts.
Now take the pan off the heat and blend everything with your hand blender. Add the cream and season well with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately with your slice of bread tipped into it...