Wild Garlic Pesto

Ramsons, Allium ursinum — also known as buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek, and bear’s garlic is now the very much sought after spring leaf that chefs just love to cook with. Unlike common cultivated garlic, it’s the leaves & flowers that are eaten rather than the bulbs. The taste is more delicate too, similar to the flavour of chives and it can be used in salads, pasta and made into a pesto. This increase in use coincides with the level of foraging coverage on TV (Hugh & Matt for example) and new “hands on” foraging courses & books now available. (www.thewildgarlic.co.uk www.wild-food.net  www.hedgerow-harvest.com  www.dorsetbushcraft.co.uk  www.wildforage.co.uk ) (rules on foraging www.cottagecookbook.co.uk)

Top-tip if you are going to use the leaves in a salad, best to treat them with great care because they do bruise very easily.

Here is a great wild garlic pesto recipe that goes well with pasta, chicken & fish, especially bass. It is a recipe which you can freely tweak to your own personal tastes i.e. add the hazel nuts at the end and blend so you are left with a crunchy pesto. You can also freeze the sauce in ice-cube containers, which will then give you a supply of this wonderful pesto throughout the year.
This will make approximately 8 ice-cube sized portions, I can only make small batches because of the size of my blender(ahh!), so just multiply the amounts for larger blenders.

50g washed and dried fresh wild garlic leaves
10g fresh basil leaves (adds a great fragrance flavour to the pesto)
25g grated parmesan
25g pine nuts or hazel nuts (roasted in a frying pan)
50-100ml good olive oil (add a little at a time until you have the right consistency)
(you can also add lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper)

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until you have a nice thick sauce as below, you can always thin the sauce with extra olive oil when you come to use it. Spoon into the ice-cube container and freeze, once frozen you can remove the cubes from the container and place in a bag, leaving the container to be used for your next batch!

Wild Garlic Pesto

wild garlic pesto, pasta and asparagus spears

wild garlic

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  1. Please can you tell me where to get Wild Garlic? I have tweeted and twittered all over the place but get no answers. I am not a “hedgerow” person as I do not have the confidence to forage with safety. Might eat something poisonous!

    Earlier this year I saw some pretty scruffy leaves in Bridport market labelled “wild garlic”. They were floppy, covered in mud and a bit chlorotic. Otherwise, to my knowledge, I have not seen them.

    I thought a plant or two from a reliable source planted in the garden would be ideal and readily available for the kitchen.

    Help please if you can and keep up the good work on this channel.

    Best wishes,

    Colin – Chickerell.

  2. Hi Colin

    Wild Garlic season will be over by now, it only lasts a few weeks – April to May..

    But it sounds like a foraging course is your best plan, there are loads out there and Dorset appears to have its fair share!!! IO have listed a selection on my blog.


  3. Hi Colin

    We grow wild garlic in our garden/s see: http://www.tennent.co.uk/recipe/files/f3c54db7eaf56c7e85dd02c6d0ca81b3-14.php

    Or more correctly, wild garlic grows itself in our garden. It takes over and eventually I resort to mowing it. But the season is short, it’s 17 Feb and I’ve just picked 200gms of 2014’s first batch. Enough to make a year’s worth of pesto which is why I’m at this page. The plants are attractive if kept in check, eventually growing white, edible flowers and then berries. By May or June it’s all gone.

    If you can find a source where you can remove the whole plant, dig up half a dozen bulbs and replant at home. Alternatively, drop by with a pick-up and take as much as you want.

    1. This is the best and most useful information that I have come across or received on “Wild Garlic”, so my grateful thanks.

      However, despite its apparent abundance and invasive properties it is not available in any shops in or around Weymouth. Saw some late spring last year in Bridport Saturday market but it looked disgusting and certainly not fresh. Will try Weymouth’s Sunday farmers market in March.

      Thanks again.

      Colin Giles

  4. That is one wild garlic garden you there, you lucky lot!! Cheers John

  5. Secret Spot to pick wild garlic: Just driver from Dorchester to the Three Horse Shoes, Powerstock during April & May and you will see loads of wild garlic all along the road side ready to be picked… After such arduous work it is advisable to pop in for a pint and sample their amazing food..!! http://www.westdorsetfoodie.co.uk/the-three-horseshoes-inn-powerstock/

    1. BEWARE, picking any normally edible plant by the roadside is a danger to your health as they are contaminated with oil and diesel/petrol products in the air and soil such that they contain heavy metals and taste awful. This goes for dandelions used for herbs and wine making, mushrooms, wild garlic, elderberry flowers & fruit, sloes and anything else that you may be tempted to pick.

      Similarly “road-kill” rabbits and pheasants should not be eaten. They are killed as they do not have the ability to get out of the way because they are aged or ill.

      Ask a tramp who will always forage well away from the roadside.

      So BEWARE, you have been warned.

      Colin Giles, 25th North Berks Scout troop.

      1. Thank you Colin, you have all been warned – please pick your wild garlic well away from the roadside – Cheers John

  6. John, just thought I would tell you that I did the pesto recipe yesterday with the garlic leaves that the girls picked last w/e.
    Fantastic! Diesel/ petrol fumes and all…
    Blew my head off, surprised any finally found it’s way into the ice tray. I look forward to actually using it.
    Alison says I smell a bit like a lorry this morning though..

    1. Well done Andrew and hope you smell better soon!! Also thanks for making last weekend such a hoot – Cheers John

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