It is no secret here that BrookLodge & Macreddin Village are advocates & enthusiastic about Wild Foods
Wild Garlic is truly in season at the moment. Here at BrookLodge & Macreddin Village, we harvest and widely use Wild Garlic accross our kitchen all year round. It truly is a wonderful, fresh ingredient. We want to encourage all visitors (or indeed any inexperienced/experienced foragers out there) to recognise, safely pick and indeed incorporate Wild Garlic into their cooking.
There are a number of different types of Wild Garlic growing in Ireland but Wild Garlic Ramsoms are the most widespread and most frequently mentioned in traditional food culture.
Where to find Wild Garlic:
It’s a common plant all over the island and it thrives in mixed woodlands and other damp, shady places like country lanes and near streams. In the right place it will be widespread and easy to spot.
What it looks like:
Growing from a surprisingly small translucent bulb, broad, pointed, bright green leaves push up through the soil to gradually form a multi-leaved bunch and are followed by a single flower stalk bearing several small white blossoms. Most years the harvest begins in mid-March and continues until mid-April. This period may vary according to local
conditions or a spring that arrives early or late. Usually you can harvest over a month.
Some people prefer the young milder leaves; others wait until the plant flowers, and the flavour is stronger, and gather leaves and flowers at the same time.
The flower of the Wild Garlic is highly identifiable and for the first time forager this is when this wild food should be harvested. Prior to this, it might be mistaken for the leaves of the Wild Lily of the Valley, and other wild plants. Some of these are, of course not pleasant to eat or indeed poisonous.
A good means of positively identifying Wild Garlic is grinding the leaves between one's fingers, which produces a pungent garlic-like smell. The leaves of Lily of the Valley come from a single purple stem, while the Wild Garlic leaves have individual green-coloured stems.
How to pick:
Shake flower to remove insects and then wash flowers and leaves in cold water and spread out on a clean cloth; pat with a cloth or kitchen paper to remove moisture.
Recipe: The Strawberry Tree’s Wild Garlic Pesto
WHAT GOES IN
50g Fresh Wild Garlic Leaves
25g pine, cashew, hazel or chestnuts…your choice!
200ml Organic Olive Oil or better still Irish Organic Rapeseed Oil
40g grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano or really mature Coolea Farmhouse Cheese
Organic Black Pepper and Sea Salt
HOW IT GOES
Simple recipes are not always the easiest. It’s taken us years to get this just right. Any of the above Nuts, Oils or Cheeses will make a fabulous fresh spring tasting Pesto…we’re just not saying exactly which go into our Strawberry Tree Wild Garlic Pesto! So, the easy way is to blitz the nuts and half the oil in a food processor and add in the grated cheese. Then add the wild garlic and blitz with the remaining oil to the right consistency. Then simply season, to your taste. As a fresh Oil Dressing, it’ll work, every time.
HOW TO FINISH
Pour into sterilised Kilner Jars and keep in the fridge or a really cool, dark pantry. More so than with Basil Pesto, there is a reaction between the Wild Garlic, Oil and especially metal lids…hence the Kilner.
WHAT YOU GET
Is a serious Pesto; a deep dark green Pesto with attitude, a Pesto that will slap you in the face with the unmistakably strong taste of wild natural garlic and its lush woodland dwellings. What you also get is ‘bottled spring and summer’…to give as a present to your friends, if you are able! If not, use it to impress as a dressing salads, bake into your favourite bread dough, add to any pasta dish or mix with butter and slip under the skin of a chicken roast…the list goes on, just use your imagination.
Wild Food MasterClass
Be sure to check out our next Wild Foods MasterClass which takes place on Thursday 25th April.
Macreddin Village is host to a variety of Wild Foods MasterClasses. Participants will receive a welcome tour of Macreddin Village including The Kitchens and The Strawberry Tree’s Wild Foods Pantry, followed by in depth tuition taking them through a full calendar of natural Wild Foods that are available along 327,000km of our Irish Hedgerows. The MasterClass with The Chefs of The Strawberry Tree Restaurant and Evan Doyle, co-author of the best-selling 'Wild Food' book will cover identification as well as instruction on how to gather, cook and preserve using traditional methods such as sugar, oil, drying, vinegars and alcohol. After enjoying lunch in The Waterside Lounge, participants will be brought outdoors with The Strawberry Tree’s Wild Food Forager to do some gentle hands on foraging around Macreddin Village.